Pertussis, aka whooping cough. Get to know it. You may be seeing or hearing it soon at a playground or pediatric ER near you. By hearing, I mean the horrible gasping of breath following a coughing fit. An infection can last for 10 weeks. WEEKS.
The good news. The World Health Organization estimates 109 million babies were vaccinated with three doses of the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine in 2010.
The bad news. Pertussis can be especially serious, even fatal for infants under 6 months. It's been on the rise in the US since the 1980s. In 2010 there were 27,500 cases reported according to the CDC.
Recent outbreaks have occurred in Washington and California.
Right now Washington has what public health officials are calling an epidemic with 776 cases through April 7, 2012 - that's not even half a year. In 2010 the state had 608.
California reported 9,143 cases and 10 infant deaths in 2010, the highest incidence since 1947.