Whooping cough is making a comeback in California. Public health officials report the worst outbreak in 50 years, with nearly 3,000 cases. Whooping cough is caused by a bacterial infection that is very irritating to the lungs and causes extreme, violent and persistent coughing. Complications can be serious, even life-threatening.
California is not the only state experiencing an increase in whooping cough. Experts attribute the increase in part to decreased rates of vaccination, both in vulnerable infants and in older children and adults. Although the disease is much less serious in adults, they can spread it to babies who are not yet vaccinated.