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Whooping Cough Cases Doubled in California This Year

Babies are vulnerable to whooping cough; 2 newborns in LA County have died from it so far this year (Photo by myllissa via Flickr)
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Statewide, reported cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, have doubled last year's number from the same time period, according to the LA Times. The increase in cases is cause for concern among health officials, who are urging parents to consider seeking vaccination for all those in the family who come in regular contact with babies.In California, four newborns have died this year from the sickness, and authorities fear this year--"346 cases from Jan. 1 to April 30, up from 129 cases during the same period" in 2009--could be even more deadly than 5 years ago, when an outbreak claimed the lives of 8 infants.

A vaccine for whooping cough became available for adults and teens in 2005, but babies are too young to partake. This is where "cocooning" can prove effective for infants, since an initial immunization isn't available until they are 6 weeks old, and even then, they need to receive a series of several booster shots. Since family members typically pass the illness to babies, having the whole family vaccinated can significantly protect the baby.