Orange County whooping cough cases nearly double in two weeks

Health officials in Orange County, California, have reported that whooping cough cases continue to climb, although no new local deaths have been reported.

California Health Department spokesman Ken August told the Orange County Register that the number of whooping cough cases has risen to 1,337. As of June 15, the state had recorded 910 cases, including the deaths of five children under three months old.

“That's more than a five-fold increase from the same period last year,” August told the Orange County Register. “It's very important for parents, family members and caregivers of infants to get a booster shot to provide a cocoon of protection around the infant.”

Health Care Agency spokeswoman Nicole Stanfield said that, as of July 3, which was the most current reporting period, 99 cases of whooping cough had been confirmed in Orange County. There were only 10 cases reported last year during the same time frame, she reported.

Wendi Gornick, clinical manager for infection prevention and epidemiology at Children's Hospital of Orange County, told the Register that 39 children have been treated at the hospital since since April, including five in the first week of July.

“We're still really increasing in our numbers right now,” Gornick told the Orange County Register. “The most important message is get your vaccine today.”

Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a highly contagious respiration infection caused by inflamed and swollen areas of the larynx. Early symptoms are similar to that of a common cold, including runny nose, sneezing and low grade fever. Persistent cough and laborious breathing usually follow.