The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has issued its latest findings on the whooping cough epidemic in the state. In a report just issued for the period from Jan. 1 to Nov. 30, 2010, the CDPH details data on 7,297 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of pertussis. This is the highest number of cases since 1947 and the highest incidence of cases since 1958.
Data are incomplete for many of the cases, making some of the information provided by the CDPH provisional. Only 39 percent of the reported cases have data on patient hospitalization. Within that group, 225 infants under the age of 6 months have been hospitalized. 169 infants hospitalized were Latino/Hispanic.
Ten deaths related to the whooping cough outbreak have been reported. All were under three months of age.
Statewide, there have been 18.7 pertussis cases per 100,000 of population. San Luis Obispo County has the highest county rate, a rate of 139.6 cases per 100,000 population. Marin County is second with a rate of 135.3 per 100,000. Los Angeles County has reported the highest number of cases with 1,122, and a lower-than-average rate of 11.4 cases per 100,000 population.
The volume of cases is contributing to reporting differences at all levels of government. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) show 2,438 cases of whooping cough in California through Nov. 20. The CDPH reported 6,795 cases through Nov. 16.
The latest CDPH report has a case count for San Diego County of 677 pertussis cases. The San Diego Newsroom site reports the county has had 931 cases for the same period in 2010.
The Centers for Disease Control has forwarded an e-mail from Kathleen Winter of the Immunization Branch at CDPH that states:
“It is my understanding that only cases for which we’ve received a Case History Form are sent to CDC from CDMS. Many counties are extremely behind in submitting the form since they are overwhelmed with case investigation for the ongoing outbreak. We’ve been maintaining our in-state total to release to the media which we know doesn’t match up with what is being sent to CDC.”
All of the county public health agencies in California have been holding pertussis vaccination clinics. Vaccinations are also available at other sites, including birthing hospitals. California is using funds provided by the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 to fund some of these additional programs. Californians should contact their physician or their county department of health for additional information.