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CDC Asks For More Whooping Cough Tests

Audio

Aired 8/9/10

The Centers for Disease Control is encouraging California doctors to do more advanced tests to diagnose whooping cough. CDC scientists have collected only seven biological samples of the illness since the state-wide epidemic began this year.

— The Centers for Disease Control is encouraging California doctors to do more advanced tests to diagnose whooping cough. CDC scientists have collected only seven biological samples of the illness since the state-wide epidemic began this year.

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a respiratory illness caused from bacteria. Different strains of bacteria can cause the disease. There have been 2,500 whooping cough cases confirmed so far this year in California.

But CDC scientists have bacterial cultures for just seven of those cases.

Dr. Tom Clark is a medical epidemiologist with the CDC in Atlanta.

"We definitely encourage culture which means growing the bacteria because...you can do a lot more to understand the strains that are circulating," said Clark.

Labs in San Diego typically run tests that only generate a positive or negative result for whooping cough, rather than classifying the strain.

Two of the seven samples the CDC is studying are from infants who died earlier this year from whooping cough. The California Department of health has also requested test samples from the San Diego baby that died of the illness last month.

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