Study tracks whooping cough epidemic

  • Sat Jul 10th, 2010 10:11pm
  • News

McClatchy Newspapers

FRESNO, Calif. — As a whooping cough epidemic seized California in recent weeks, threatening to break a 50-year-old record, a top state health official speculated that Fresno County was hit hardest because of unvaccinated Hispanic farmworkers spreading the disease.

County and state reports issued Friday, however, debunked the idea.

The state report found overall rates were highest among non-Hispanic whites. And an analysis by the Fresno County Department of Public Health found the disease is present throughout the community.

The county health department examined all 227 whooping cough cases reported this year through Thursday. Caucasians represented 43.6 percent of the cases, while Hispanics accounted for 42.7 percent. Blacks and Asians and Pacific Islanders each were under 5 percent of the cases. The percentages are roughly in proportion to Fresno County’s population demographics.

Statewide, meanwhile, the disease is spreading.

Late last month, state health officials declared whooping cough — or pertussis — an epidemic. As of June 30, the state had 1,337 cases — a fivefold increase from the number reported for the same time in 2009. If the trend continues, the state will see more cases of whooping cough than it has had in more than 50 years, state officials said Friday.