LA County officials advise public of whooping cough epidemic

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As kids get their back-to-school vaccinations, it’s a good idea for older siblings, parents and grandparents to get booster shots for whooping cough.

The number of deaths related to Pertussis, or whooping cough, is at a 15-year high in Los Angeles County. L.A. County public health officials report four infant deaths so far this year.

The county’s chief health officer, Dr. Jonathan Fielding, says young children most commonly catch whooping cough from older siblings, parents and grandparents.

“You get it from people coughing in your presence. It’s a bacteria. When you cough, you get a lot of those bacteria, if they’re in your system, out into the environment,” Fielding says.

He says infants are especially vulnerable, because their immune systems aren’t strong enough to fight off such a strong respiratory infection.

In June, state public health officials declared a statewide epidemic. They’re advising pediatricians to treat for whooping cough first whenever babies go to them with a nagging cough or trouble breathing.