For the first time in four years, California is experiencing a statewide epidemic of pertussis, or whooping cough, with infants under the age of 6 months facing the greatest risk of hospitalization or death, according to state health authorities.
“We urge all pregnant women to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health. “We also urge parents to vaccinate infants as soon as possible.”
California counties have reported 3,458 cases of the disease this year, including two infant deaths. While that figure is less than the 9,163 cases reported in 2010 — the last epidemic year — health officials say this year’s caseload is on track to meet that level.
“The summer months are usually the worst,” said Dr. Gil Chavez, an epidemiologist and deputy director at the department.
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