Local News

Jun 17, 2014 7:20 PM by Connie Tran, KSBY News

Whooping cough cases on the rise in California, handful of cases on Central Coast

More than twenty cases of whooping cough have been reported on the Central Coast, and across the state, the numbers are much worse. There have been more than 3,400 reported cases, and two deaths, from the disease in California so far this year. Now, the California Public Health Department has declared an epidemic. This year alone, the State's Public Health Department said nine cases of whooping cough have been reported in San Luis Obispo County and 13 cases in Santa Barbara County.

"Wow, look at you go that's amazing!" said mom of three Lauren Persall. Persall, who lives in Los Osos, watched her three young kids catapult off bouncing mats at Central Coast Gymnastics Sports Center in San Luis Obispo on Tuesday.

It was all fun and games for the day until she heard about the State's recent epidemic of pertussis, or as parents know it, whooping cough.

Persall said, "When, you know, these epidemics go around it's terrifying cause they could potentially get very ill and ultimately lead to death in youngsters."

Central Coast Gymnastics Sports Center owner Mimi Phene-McKellar knows whooping cough can be spread through cough, very easily.

"We sanitize, we vacuum, we steam mop all our mats, and we have a schedule and it's getting done every week. So, we're constantly cleaning," said Phene-McKellar.

Phene-McKellar said she had a bout of whooping cough herself in 2010, the last time there was a state epidemic. State health officials said four years ago, ten California infants died from the infection.

Doctor Rene Bravo, a pediatrician in San Luis Obispo told KSBY News that whooping cough is, "Known as the hundred-day cough and you get increasingly congested. It's characterized by a deep whoop."

Bravo said fewer parents vaccinating their children is only partially to blame for the rise in numbers.

He said, "And I think part of it too is, as populations change and as people become more comfortable, to get vaccination rates decline. There's also some issues about the vaccine, making sure the vaccine is given correctly, etcetera."

Persall said the epidemic won't stop her kids from being active with others, but it's about staying educated on whether to vaccinate.

And that, continues to be the current debate between parents - whether to vaccinate their children. Bravo said the key is to educate yourself and follow up with your own pediatrician or physician. He also recommends children get the whooping cough vaccine in their first 18-months, then again at five-years old, and then again in junior high.

The CDC said un-vaccinated children are at least eight-times more likely to get whooping cough than vaccinated children. It's also recommended that pregnant women get the vaccine in their third trimester.

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