SACRAMENTO (AP) — The California Department of Public Health says more than 6,200 Californians have been infected with whooping cough in the largest epidemic to strike the state since 1950.

Updated totals released by the department show that as of late Tuesday there were 6,257 cases of whooping cough, an increase of 279 cases from last week.

Ten deaths have been reported, all infants younger than three months.

The highly contagious illness has symptoms similar to the common cold, but a persistent cough that lasts weeks may indicate the illness, which is also known as pertussis.

All the babies who have died this year were too young to be fully immunized, so health officials are urging parents and caretakers to get booster shots to create a cocoon of immunity around vulnerable children.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (3)
  1. rjsmitty says:

    California offers a personal-belief exemption whereby the parent simply signs a pre-written statement on the school immunization form. This personal-belief exemption is available to anyone regardless of the nature of their beliefs (religious or philosophical) and it is easier to claim this exemption than to complete the school immunization form that requires a health care clinician to obtain the child’s medical record and transcribe the dates of vaccine administration.

    1. rjsmitty says:

      So everyone who does not get there child immunized puts everyone else child at risk… Thanks

  2. MGB says:

    If immunization really prevents, then your immunized child has nothing to worry about.

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