Health officials are asking women and seniors to get vaccinated against whooping cough as California's epidemic continues to grow.
California Department of Public Health's Dr. Gil Chavez says the number of whooping cough cases statewide is up to 1,496 cases as of July 16. That's a fivefold increase over the same period last year.
Five Californians have died of whooping cough this year. All were Latino babies under 3 months of age who were too young to be immunized. A sixth infant death is under investigation.
A typical case of whooping cough may appear similar to a common cold for up to two weeks, followed by weeks or months of rapid coughing fits that sometimes end with a whooping sound.
The state says seniors and women in child-bearing years should get vaccinated.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.