Whooping cough is now at epidemic levels in California and the state could record the highest number of illnesses and death due to the disease in 50 years, the state's top health official said Wednesday.
Reported cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, have quadrupled over the same time period last year, said Dr. Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health. Five infants — all under 3 months — have died, including two in Los Angeles County and one in San Bernardino County.
Whooping cough is a bacterial disease that infects the respiratory system. There have been 910 confirmed cases of the highly contagious disease in California between Jan. 1 and June 15. During the same time last year, 219 cases were confirmed.
An additional 600 possible cases are being investigated.