Pertussis (whooping cough) is highly contagious and one of the most commonly occurring vaccine-preventable diseases in the United States.
Since the 1980s, there has been an increase in the number of cases of pertussis, especially among teens (10-19 years of age) and babies less than 6 months of age. In 2008, there were more than 13,000 reported cases, including 18 deaths from pertussis nationally. In June of this year, California declared an epidemic and warned that the state is on pace to suffer the most illnesses and deaths due to pertussis in 50 years.
Reasons for Increasing Number of Cases Nationally
The change in pertussis testing. A newer test, called a PCR, has become the dominant method of testing and most likely more cases are being detected than would have been in the past.
The decreasing immunity in teens and adults. Many have not yet gotten their Tdap vaccine booster.
The increasing number of unvaccinated children. Parents who opt out of vaccinating their children create pockets of vulnerability in the community.