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: This warning may prompt questions from patients in California about whooping cough symptoms and prevention. Talking points 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. Two types of vaccines protect against the disease: Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP) vaccines are recommended for babies and children younger than 7 years old; and tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccines are recommended for children aged 7 and older. Those over the age of 7 should receive a pertussis vaccine booster every 10 years. Learn more about DTaP and Tdap vaccination schedules from the CDC.