Low vaccination rates cause worry over whooping cough | TheUnion.com

Low vaccination rates cause worry over whooping cough

Kyle Magin
Staff Writer

Nevada County health officials are concerned over an outbreak of the potentially fatal whooping cough in other parts of California.

Reported cases of whooping cough in California have tripled since last year, according to state health officials. Five infants have died of the disease since the start of this year, state health officials said. The disease can be prevented with a vaccination.

Nevada County residents are vaccinated at a far lower rate than residents of other counties in the state, said county Public Health Officer Karen Milman. For that reason, county health officials are keeping a close eye for the disease, Milman said.

“We haven’t had any reported cases yet this year, but we are very aware of it,” Milman said.

A whooping cough outbreak last hit the county in early 2007 at the Yuba River Charter School on Bitney Springs Road, as more than 10 children were forced to leave school with symptoms.

California confirmed 584 cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, between Jan. 1 and May 31 – three times the 190 confirmed cases reported last year in the same time frame.

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Hit especially hard were the Bay Area, Los Angeles County, Orange County and Fresno County. News of the outbreak is prompting health officials in neighboring Nevada to encourage its citizens to be aware of the symptoms, which includes prolonged, violent coughing.

The infants who died were all newborns who caught the disease from adults. Infants under 6 months of age are not fully protected against pertussis and are vulnerable to this disease.

The Tdap booster shot vaccinates against the disease.

The county health department offers the vaccine through its mobile clinic, which is parked from 1 – 4 p.m. every Thursday behind the Grass Valley Veterans Memorial building on 255 S. Auburn St. The vaccine costs $10 from the county. Additionally, most physicians offer the vaccination.

The Nevada Appeal contributed to this report. To contact Staff Writer Kyle Magin, e-mail kmagin@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4239.

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