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Worst Whooping Cough Epidemic In 55 Years

Video unavailable. Read transcript below.

Video published September 17, 2010 | Download MP4 | View transcript

Above: Officials just confirmed a ninth baby died of complications from whooping cough at the end of August. We'll discuss whether there are any signs that the disease is slowing down.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

— JOINING ME NOW WITH THE LATEST INFORMATION ABOUT THE WHOPPING COUGH EPIDEMIC IS REPORTER JOANNE FARIAN. THAT BABY DIED FROM COMPLICATIONS OF WHOPPING COUGH. IS THERE ANY SHOW THAT THE DISEASE IS SLOWING DOWN?

NO. IT'S ACTUALLY PICKING UP. IN THE LAST THREE WEEKS, THERE HAVE BEEN MORE THAN A HUNDRED CONFIRMED CASES IN THE COUNTY. END OF AUGUST, WE HAD MORE THAN 300 CONFIRMED CASES. NOW WE HAVE 554 CONFIRMED CASES. ALSO THE STATE SHOWS THAT SAME TREND. THIS IS THE WORST EPIDEMIC IN 55 YEARS.

WHY DO HEALTH OFFICIALS THINK THAT THERE ARE SHARP INCREASES AT THIS POINT?

WELL, THERE'S A FEW REASONS. FIRST OF ALL, THIS DISEASE TENDS TO PEAK IN THE SUMMER. WE'RE A LITTLE LATE FOR THAT. USUALLY IT'S IN JULY. WE'RE SEEING IT IN SEPTEMBER. KIDS ARE GOING BACK TO SCHOOL, THIS IS A VERY CONTAGIOUS DISEASE. AND THERE'S SO MUCH AWARENESS RIGHT NOW ABOUT WHOPPING COUGH IN THE COMMUNITY SO THERE ARE MORE PEOPLE GOING TO THEIR DOCTORS ASKING.

THERE'S PROBABLY MORE REPORTING GOING ON ABOUT THE SYMPTOMS OF THE DISEASE. NOW, YOU DID TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT THE EFFICACY OF THE WHOPPING COUGH VACCINE. WHAT'S KNOWN ABOUT HOW GOOD IT WORKS?

THAT'S A GREAT QUESTION. KPBS LOOKED AT DATA IN THE PAST COUPLE OF WEEKS FOR PEOPLE WHO WERE TESTED POSITIVE FOR WHOPPING COUGH. AT THE TIME, THERE WERE MORE THAN 300 POSITIVE CASES. WE FOUND THAT NEARLY 200 OF THOSE CASES, THEY WERE UPDATE WITH THEIR IMMUNIZATIONS FOR WHOPPING COUGH. WHY DO THEY STILL GET THE DISEASE? A NUMBER OF REASONS. EXPERTS SAY THIS VACCINE IS NOT 100% EFFECTIVE. VARIOUS ESTIMATES PLACE IT BETWEEN 80-90% EFFECTIVE. WE SPOKE WITH ONE WORLD EXPERT WHO SAID IT'S MAYBE ONLY 70% EFFECTIVE AND OTHERS WHO SAY WE OUGHT TO BE LOOKING AT THE VACCINE AND THE CURRENT STRAIN OF WHOPPING COUGH AND ASKING THESE QUESTIONS.

IS THERE A SIGN THEY MAY ACCOMMODATE THE VACCINES TO THE CHANGING DISEASE?

I'VE SPOKEN WITH SOMEONE FREQUENTLY ABOUT IT AND HE SAYS THERE IS A LOT OF RESEARCH BEING DONE IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD. FOR EXAMPLE IN IRELAND THEY FOUND A GROUP OF FULLY VACCINATED CHILDREN WHO WERE ALSO GETTING SICK. I CAME ACROSS A PAPER IN ISRAEL. THE DISCUSSION HAS BEGUN ABOUT THIS.

JUST BRIEFLY, DO THEY HAVE A SENSE OF WHEN THIS WILL TAPER OFF?

WELL, THE COUNTY DEPUTY HEALTH OFFICER SAYS HE EXPECTS THAT BY NEXT MONTH, WE SHOULD SEE THESE NUMBERS GO DOWN. THAT'S BECAUSE OF THE NATURE OF THE DISEASE. WE'LL KEEP YOU POSTED.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

THANKS.

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