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Whooping Cough Has Sickened Thousands, Is The Vaccine Working?

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CALIFORNIA'S EXPERIENCING A WHOOPING COUGH EPIDEMIC. THE WORSE IN 60 YEARS. TEN BABIES DIED THROUGHOUT THE STATE. MORE THAN 7,000 PEOPLE HAVE BECOME SICK. NEARLY 1,000 IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY ALONE. KPBS HAS SPENT THE LAST FOUR MONTHS INVESTIGATING THAT EPIDEMIC. TWO REPORTERS ARE HERE TO TALK ABOUT THEIR FINDINGS. WELCOME YOU BOTH. WHAT IS IT YOU WANT TO FIND OUT ABOUT THE EPIDEMIC? WE HAD DONE SOME STORIES MONTHS BACK IDENTIFYING IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY THAT A NUMBER OF THE PEOPLE WHO GOT WHOOPING COUGH WERE IMMUNIZED. WAS THIS SAN DIEGO COUNTY OR PART OF A LARGER TREND? WHAT CHANGE HAD THE LED TO THE INCREASE? I THINK THAT'S REALLY THE QUESTION. A QUESTION THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE DON'T HAVE THE ANSWER TO. THAT WAS A BIG PART OF OUR INVESTIGATION. LOOKING BACK AT HOLIDAY THAT, THIS WAS A DISEASE THAT 38 YEARS AGO WAS NEARLY WIPED OUT. WHAT'S CHANGED BETWEEN NOW AND THE 1970'S? YOU WENT TO COUNTY AND STATE OFFICIALS TO GET DATA ABOUT PEOPLE GETTING WHOOPING COUGH. FIRST OF ALL, WHAT DID YOU WANT TO FIND OUT? WELL, WHEN WE GOT THE SET OF DATA FROM THE SAN DIEGO COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH IT WAS DETAILED. HOLD US HOW MANY CASES OF PEOPLE WERE IMUNITED, HOW MANY WEREN'T. THEY SUBMIT THE DATA TO THE CALIFORNIA PUBLIC OF HEALTH. WE WANTED TO FIND OUT STATE- WIDE ON A COUNTY LEVEL WHAT COUNTIES WE ARE SEEING AS FAR AS THE EPIDEMIC GOES. WHEN WE GOT THE STATE DATA WE FOUND IT WAS LACKING. THE HISTORY WAS UNKNOWN FOR A MAJORITY OF THE CASES THAT HAD BEEN REPORTED IN CALIFORNIA THUS FAR. WHAT WE DO KNOW IS HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE GETTING SICK DO WE HAVE THAT INFORMATION? YES. HOW MANY OF THOSE WHO GOT SICK WERE IMMUNIZED? RIGHT. WHAT DID THAT TELL YOU ABOUT THE DECEASED? IT TOLD US THAT THERE ARE A FAIR PERCENTAGE OF PEOPLE WHO HAD BEEN IMMUNIZED AGAINST WHOOPING COUGHS THAT WERE COMING DOWN WITH IT. ALL RIGHT. NOW YOU ACTUALLY DISCUSSED ALL OF THIS WITH THE FAMILY WHO HAD A CHILD WHO HAS THE DISEASE, RIGHT? THAT'S RIGHT. KEVIN AND I ARE ALSO WORKING ON A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT THIS EPIDEMIC. WE MET A FAMILY WHOSE BABY AT 23 DAYS OLD WAS DIAGNOSED WITH WHOOPING COUGH. OUR AUDIENCE PROBABLY DOES KNOW AT THIS POINT ANY EPIDEMIC THIS DISEASE IS MOST DANGEROUS FOR BABIES THAT AGE. I WANT YOU TO NOW MEET THE FAMILY. WE HAVE A CLIP AND HOW THEY DESCRIBED WHY THEY KNEW SOMETHING JUST WASN'T RIGHT WITH THEIR SON. I KNOW EVERY CHILD GROWS DIFFERENT. WITH ALREADY TWO SONS THEY NEVER GOT A COLD THAT YOUNG. IT JUST SEEMED LIKE THIS COLD WAS JUST AFFECTING HIS BREATHING. THAT WAS OR MAIN CONCERN. I WANT TO TELL YOU, TWO DAYS AFTER THAT INTERVIEW THEIR SON BABY MATTHEW WAS HOSPITALIZED. HE WENT TO THE HOSPITAL WITH A FEVER. IN THE DOCUMENTARY WE FOLLOW THE PROGRESSION OF THE DISEASE. WE SHOW YOU SORT OF WHAT HAPPENS IN THE END. OBVIOUSLY THIS IS SORT OF THE AGE GROUP THAT HEALTH OFFICIALS ARE WORRIED ABOUT. THIS IS WHY GETTING TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS EPIDEMIC AND ANSWERING QUESTIONS IS IMPORTANT. KEVIN, WHEN YOU BEGAN REQUESTING NUMBERS WHAT KIND OF RESPONSE DID YOU GET? WE STARTED GOING TO THE COUNTIES. INSTRUCTORS SAID THE MORE ACCURATE DATA IS AT THE COUNTY LEVEL. WE SENT OUT REQUESTS TO 19 COUNTIES WHO HAD HIGH NUMBERS OF WHOOPING COULD HAVE. THE RESULTS WERE INTERESTING. WE GOT DETAILED DATA FROM COUNTS AND AGATE INFORMATION FROM OTHER TWO AND OTHERS WERE NOT GOING TO RELEASE THE INFORMATION OR DIDN'T HAVE THE INFORMATION. ON A COUNTY-BY-COUNTY BASIS 40-80% OF THE PEOPLE WHO GOTTEN PERTUSSIS HAS BEEN IMMUNIZED. THAT WAS THE CONCLUSION YOU CAME AWAY WITH. RIGHT. YOU DUG MORE DEEPLY FOR THE DOCUMENTARY. YOU WENT TO THE NETHERLANDS. THAT'S RIGHT. FOR 15 YEARS DUTCH SCIENTIST HAVE BEEN STUDYING WHY ARE WE SEEING MORE CASES OF PERTUSSIS, NOT JUST IN CALIFORNIA BUT WORLDWIDE? NETHERLANDS WENT THROUGH THE EPIDEMIC IN 1996. THE GROUP OF SCIENTIST IN THE NETHERLANDS SAID WHAT'S CHANGED? WHAT'S DIFFERENT NOW? JUST AS IN CALIFORNIA WHERE THEY WERE FINDING COMMUNITIES GETTING SICK, DEFINING THAT ELSEWHERE IN THE WORLD, AS WELL. THOSE SCIENTIST HAVE A THEORY THAT THE DISEASE IS CHANGING. YOU'LL SEE MORE ABOUT THAT IN OUR REPORT ON RADIO AND THE TELEVISION DOCUMENTARY. LET'S FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE REPORTS SINCE WE ARE WRAPPING IT UP DURING THIS SEGMENT. WHEN WILL WE SEE THE DOCUMENTARY? COVERAGE BEGINS ON MONDAY ON OUR WEBSITE KPBS.ORG/WHOOPINGCOUGH. TUESDAY MORNING YOU'LL HEAR THEM ON KPBS RADIO AND YOU CAN GO TO WATCHDOG INSTITUTES. WWW.WATCHDOGINSTITUTE.ORG. FINALLY THURSDAY NIGHT ON KPBS TELEVISION AT 9:30. THANK YOU VERY MUCH JOE ANN AND KEVIN CROWE. THANK YOU.

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