California whooping cough cases triple this year

Health officials say California whooping cough cases are soaring with the 584 confirmed cases representing a threefold increase over the same period last year when there were 190 cases.

Five infants have died, including one in San Bernardino more than a month ago.

California Department of Public Health officials said the Central Valley, San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles area have seen the most dramatic rises in whooping cough during the five-month period ending May 31.

Whooping cough, known as pertussis, can cause adults to experience severe coughing spells lasting up to four months. Infants are most vulnerable to the bacterial disease.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.