May 18, 2012

Washington Whooping Cough Epidemic

On April 3rd, 2012, Health Secretary Mary Selecky declared a Whooping cough epidemic in the state of Washington.  Whooping cough, also called pertussis, is a highly contagious disease that causes uncontrollable, violent coughing, runny nose, fever, and diarrhea.  It can also weaken your body’s immune system, leading to other diseases or infections that could potentially kill you.
This has been the first Whooping cough epidemic since California’s 2010 epidemic, where over 9000 cases and 10 deaths were reported.
Currently, in Washington, about 1,280 cases have been reported and health officials expect the number to rise to 3,000 by the end of the year, even though the vaccine has become available to people for free if they don’t have insurance.
Washington already requires a booster shot for middle school and high school students, adults with newborns at the hospital, and is also urging businesses to get their employees an adult booster shot.
Just last week, Govenor Chris Gregoire announced that the state is putting $90,000 in a public awareness campaign as well as using some federal money to buy 27,000 doses of vaccine.  Washington has also asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to send investigators and an epidemiologist (a person researches public health in a large population) to the state.

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