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Press Contact: Victoria Breckwich Vasquez, Department of Health Services, Public Health Division, (510) 981-5362

California seeing more cases; disease especially dangerous to infants

Berkeley, California (Friday, July 02, 2010) - Residents who regularly come into contact with infants are urged to protect the children and themselves by getting vaccinated. The City of Berkeley Public Health Division warns that California is on pace to suffer more whooping cough illnesses and deaths this year than in any of the last 50 years.

“Whooping cough is very contagious and is especially dangerous to young infants,” said Dr. Janet Berreman, Berkeley’s Health Officer. “Everyone who lives, plays, or works with infants and children should be vaccinated against the disease. Parents, pregnant women, family members and caregivers of infants need a booster shot.”

To reduce the spread of whooping cough in Berkeley, the Public Health Division is working with community-based organizations, schools, daycare providers, universities, and churches to educate families and caregivers about the importance of vaccination and where they can get vaccinated.

The Division is also communicating to local providers the importance of offering the vaccination to everyone who should get it, as well as the need to test and treat patients with symptoms of whooping cough.

Public Health encourages families to contact their usual health care provider for vaccination. The City of Berkeley Public Health Clinic at 830 University Avenue offers the whooping cough shot for children and adults without a regular healthcare provider. Please call 510-981-5350 for information about expanded hours of vaccine availability.

“So far the number of cases of whooping cough in Berkeley remains small and we want to keep it that way,” says City of Berkeley Communicable Disease Coordinator Barbara Gregory. “We actively monitor reported cases and investigate any local outbreaks.” 


As of June 15, California had recorded 910 cases of whooping cough, a four-fold increase from the same period last year. Five California infants— all under three months old— have died from the disease this year.

A typical case of whooping cough in children and adults starts with a cough and runny nose for one-to-two weeks, followed by weeks to months of rapid coughing fits that sometimes end with a whooping sound. Fever is rare. Infants with whooping cough may worsen quickly and may not have a significant cough.

More information is available on the City of Berkeley Public Health Website at www.CityofBerkeley.info/publichealth.

The California Department of Public Health Website also has information for the general public http://www.cdph.ca.gov/HealthInfo/discond/Pages/Pertussis.aspx


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