California health officials warn of possible whooping cough outbreak

The California Department of Public Health recently warned of a possible whooping cough outbreak in the state as cases rise across the country. Public health officials are encouraging residents to keep themselves and their children up to date on vaccinations and seek immediate treatment if they experience symptoms.

Recommendation: The rise in whooping cough cases throughout the country provides an opportunity to educate target populations, especially pregnant people and parents of young children, about the symptoms of whooping cough and the importance of whooping cough vaccines. Messaging may emphasize that pertussis, or whooping cough, is a highly contagious disease that can cause severe illness and death, especially in babies. Early symptoms in people of all ages may include a runny or stuffy nose, a low fever, and a mild cough. Babies may struggle to breathe. Later symptoms may include extreme coughing fits, vomiting during or after coughing fits, fatigue, difficulty breathing, and rib fractures. Vaccination remains our best protection against whooping cough. Studies show that diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP) vaccines are 98 percent effective one year after vaccination and 71 percent effective five years after vaccination. Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccines are about 70 percent effective at one year and 30 to 40 percent effective at four years after vaccination. Vaccinated people who contract whooping cough are less likely to develop serious symptoms.