State Faces New Health Epidemic

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    State health officials say whooping cough is now an epidemic in California and is on pace to break a 50-year record for infections and deaths for the year.

    As of June 15, California had 910 recorded cases of the highly contagious disease, and five babies -- all under 3 months of age -- have died from the disease this year.

    California Department of Public Health director Dr. Mark Horton said Wednesday that children should be vaccinated against the disease and parents, caregivers and infants need a booster shot.

    A typical case of the disease, formally called pertussis, 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.