Eight states are reporting 500 or more cases of whooping cough / pertussis, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Week 46 MMWR report for the week ending November 20. New York is number 8. New York City and State combined have seen 563 cases in 2010 so far compared to 289 at the same time last year.
New York City has avoided the illness with only 78 cases this year and 86 in 2009. The whooping cough cases have been seen primarily in just a few counties of the state. The Albany area, the Capital District, has seen at least 45 cases. The Syracuse and Onondaga County area saw 120 cases in an outbreak earlier this year.
Rural Jefferson County is currently experiencing an outbreak with 150 known cases as of November 21. North Country Public Radio is reporting that number to have grown to 195 known cases and 200 suspect cases. The Watertown Daily Times has a count of 264 cases. Jefferson County is home to Fort Drum, a 107,000 acre military post that is headquarters to the 10th Mountain Division and over 18,000 soldiers and their families.
The whooping cough epidemic in California continues. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) reports 6,795 cases through November 16. Combined data from the CDC and the CDPH places the national case count at 21,607, 57% higher than the same time last year.
The national outbreak has a strong Midwest component. Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota have case counts over 500, with Ohio at 1,527 cases of pertussis and Michigan at 1,233. Indiana has 470 cases and Wisconsin 409.
Whooping cough is highly contagious, and is spread from person to person through coughing, sneezing or contact with surfaces that may have been contaminated by an infected person. A vaccine exists, and is usually given to children in five doses beginning at 2 months of age and ending just before school at age five. A booster, combined with tetanus vaccine, is now being suggested for children entering middle school and for adults with close contact with infants.
Pertussis in infants under twelve months of age is serious, and potentially fatal. Infants have little or no immunity and often require hospitalization due to the illness.