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Whooping cough epidemic hits California. Is Chicago next?

Well, it’s happening again. The cases of children coming down with the Whopping Cough is on the rise in California – to the point where it is making headlines worldwide. What does this mean for Chicago parents?

Easy. It means it’s time to reconsider getting inoculated for Pertussis with the TDap vaccine. It also means being obnoxiously careful when visiting newborns, infants, the immuno-suppressed and the very old. In fact, most parents agree, there’s really no need to visit a newborn – and absolutely no reason to kiss one – unless you are 100% positive you have not been exposed or are carrying a disease or virus that could potentially kill a child. Keep in mind that adults and teens who get pertussis might not show the same severe signs that have killed infants.

Here’s what the Associated Press says about the California cases.

A total of 9,935 cases were reported to the California Department of Public Health from Jan. 1 to Nov. 26 – the highest number in 70 years. The cases included one infant who died. Elementary, middle and high school outbreaks have occurred across the state.

The bacterial infection causes uncontrollable, violent coughing, which often makes it hard to breathe. People often take deep breaths which result in a “whooping” sound.

San Diego County is among the hardest hit areas with 1,819 cases reported so far this year.

Perhaps you already know the story of the Morgan Park infant who died – just over one month old – of whooping cough. His parents detailed their struggle here. For that reason, they are petitioning the state to notify all residents via post card whenever a communicable disease has risen to epidemic levels in the local community. This law, Kaden’s Law, is designed to help the community. There is also an outbreak in Staunton, Illinois.

Or perhaps you remember back to 2012, when Illinois had one of the highest whooping cough rates in the nation.

How do you beat it? Wash your hands. Frequently. And, if you are old enough to read this blog post, if you don’t have to, then don’t interact with a baby if you are not feeling completely awesome. Your sniffles, minor sore throat or intermittent cough could be bad news to a small child or infant.