CA sees most whooping cough cases since 1955

LOS ANGELES Health officials report nearly 5,300 cases. In 1955, the state had 4,900 cases. Nine babies have died.

Next fall, California junior high and high school students will be required to get the pertussis vaccine, also known as Tdap.

Pediatric experts say immunizing everyone within a family can help protect infants.

"You can prevent the spread to young babies," said Dr. John Cherry of Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. "The deaths are all in children under 2 months old."

Whooping cough or pertussis typically starts with a cough and runny nose for up to two weeks. It is followed by weeks to months of rapid coughing fits.

The illness is treatable with antibiotics.

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