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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Washington at Record Pace as Whooping Cough Cases Pass 1,000

Posted by on Tue, Apr 24, 2012 at 4:49 PM

I love setting records! But not this one:

Washington’s whooping cough epidemic continues on a record pace that has already surpassed 1,000 reported cases. The total of 1,008 as of April 21 is more than reported in all of 2011 and is the highest number of cases since 1,026 were reported in all of 2005.

Our state is on pace to reach more than 3,000 cases for the year; levels that haven’t been seen in more than six decades.

And as we've been repeatedly reminded, that's only the tip of the iceberg. While potentially fatal in infants, the vast majority of whooping cough cases in adults present as nasty colds, and don't generate a trip to the doctor let alone a report to health authorities. So there could be tens of thousands of communicable cases out there right now.

So get vaccinated.


Comments (41) RSS

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venomlash 1
There was a whooping cough at my high school's rival school when I was a junior, I believe. A bunch of us went to basketball games against them wearing hospital masks.
Posted by venomlash on April 24, 2012 at 5:01 PM · Report this
Vaccinations of children should be mandatory. End of story.
Posted by I Got Nuthin' on April 24, 2012 at 5:08 PM · Report this
malcolmxy 3
You've obviously never tried the hydrocodone cough syrup they give you when you have this ailment. It's almost worth getting it for the cough suppression tonic they give you.
Posted by malcolmxy on April 24, 2012 at 5:12 PM · Report this
Womyn2me 4
And now the moomies who didnt get their kids vaccinated over a bogus idea about autism reap the whirlwind. Good. Too bad for their kids, of course.
Posted by Womyn2me http://http:\\ on April 24, 2012 at 5:14 PM · Report this
@4, and too bad for other people's kids, who can't get immunized for whatever reason (severe immunosuppression), and who were relying on herd immunity to keep them safe.
Posted by Ancient Sumerian on April 24, 2012 at 5:17 PM · Report this
Bauhaus I 6
The memory of 5-10% of my childhood friends winding up in an iron lung during polio season makes me want to draw my leg back and kick the bejesus out of the anti-vaccination crowd.
Posted by Bauhaus I on April 24, 2012 at 5:27 PM · Report this

You cannot make mandatory any medical treatment in the United States. That is totally counter to the language of our constitution, not to mention, people's religious freedom.

If they can force you to have a vaccination, imagine what would be next. Forced birth control? Forced abortions to people that cannot afford children? Forcing people to do things is what Russian and China do, not the United States. Perhaps you'd be happier as a laborer in rural China? I'm sure they'd have plenty of things to force you to do...
Posted by scratchmaster joe on April 24, 2012 at 5:48 PM · Report this
Once again, the modern American propensity for valuing hazily-defined individual "freedom" over any and all other considerations runs afoul of reality.

Of course the first batch of anti-vaccination paranoiac dimwits got by as free riders, until their numbers grew enough to overcome the immunity provided by their non-dimwitted vaccinated neighbors. As with so many other things, the benefit provided by all those people participating in the social contract that is vaccination is largely invisible until it's removed.
Posted by Proteus on April 24, 2012 at 5:50 PM · Report this
@3 I second that. It's some gooood shit.
Posted by shaneleopard on April 24, 2012 at 5:52 PM · Report this
eastcoastreader 10
@6, right there with you. this is a huge peeve for me as I have a lot of anti-vax friends, and I am totally down with, you know, science. it's such an explosive issue that we just don't talk about it. I try here and there though, but nothing ever seems to get through. so many people distrust the drug companies and the government that you can show them all the science in the world and it wouldn't matter.
Posted by eastcoastreader on April 24, 2012 at 5:55 PM · Report this
SecretBYUBottomBoy 11
I know that I trust Jenny McCarthy's medical advice over that of actual doctors.

Btw-- it's also been a record year for measles cases.
Posted by SecretBYUBottomBoy on April 24, 2012 at 5:56 PM · Report this
@7: Right, because forcing people to get a vaccine is exactly the same as forcing them to get abortions. EXACTLY. Besides which, this country has already forced abortions and many other medical procedures upon people in its history. Repeatedly. Forcing fucking whackjob Jehovah Witnesses to immunize their children so mine doesn't end up dead from an easily preventable disease sounds perfectly reasonable to me.
Posted by NateMan on April 24, 2012 at 5:59 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 13
"If they can force you to have a vaccination, imagine what would be next. Forced birth control? Forced abortions to people that cannot afford children?"

Wouldn't that be wonderful? God bless you dreamers. You restore my faith in humanity.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on April 24, 2012 at 6:14 PM · Report this

It says the vast majority of cases were in adults.

I don't think the anti-vaccination thing took off until the last few years right?

So...given that an adult (let's generously make it 21+) would have been born post 2001, shouldn't most of those have been vaccinated?

And if the age is higher doesn't it really raise questions about the basic effectiveness of the vaccine?
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on April 24, 2012 at 7:08 PM · Report this
@7 You are wrong. Two states don't have any religious exemption for their vaccination requirements. It ought to be fifty. Not vaccinating your children is like shitting in the street -- it's a hazard to your neighbors, and your religious liberty does not include the right to be a public menace.

@14 The issue is that the vaccine wears off after a while. You have to get boosters every ten years. Luckily, the pertussis booster is bundled with diptheria and tetanus boosters, which you also need. This is not news. I think employers or perhaps OSHA should start imposing vaccination requirements on their workers. No current vaccine, no paycheck
Posted by rocketgeek on April 24, 2012 at 7:39 PM · Report this
@7, the hell you can't. When I was a child, we were lined up at school and vaccinated. Period. No one got whooping cough or anything else that they had vaccinations for. Unfortunately, polio vaccine hadn't been developed and our parents were fearful every summer.

@6, everyone with sense would come and cheer you on.
Posted by sarah70 on April 24, 2012 at 8:15 PM · Report this
@7 You are wrong. When there were polio epidemics, people were forcibly vaccinated. Typhoid Mary was imprisoned for life for being a carrier of a lethal disease.
Spraying of DDT over whole neighborhoods to eliminate malaria was allowed. Forced quarantine was legally used for malaria, polio, yellow fever, and influenza; if the incubation time were shorter, quarantine would have been used for HIV as well. Diseases have killed more Americans than ANY war has ever done, and the Constitution allows for martial rule in emergencies. There is a reason why the Surgeon General wears a military uniform.
Finally, if the government can mandate that people canNOT get an abortion, as pro-lifers claim, then it sure as hell could ALSO mandate that you HAVE to get an abortion if the government chooses. One reason to be pro-choice; it cuts both ways.
Posted by Biologist in the stix on April 24, 2012 at 9:04 PM · Report this

You could be right.

Checking the age distribution (Table 2)…

Seems like there's a bulge starting averaging around 13 yrs of age.

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on April 24, 2012 at 9:07 PM · Report this
As far as I know, no one can legally force you get medical treatment against your will, and I'm pretty sure that includes vaccinations. (If you're in the armed forces, you gotta do whatever they tell you.) I think Scratchmaster is right on this, though I do agree the anti-vaccination movement constitutes a public hazard.

However, society can impose onerous measures upon you should you decide to not be vaccinated, under the guise of protecting you from society and vice versa. (And I'm no lawyer.) I also don't know whether parents could be forced to arrange or allow some forms of medical treatments on their dependents.
Posted by floater on April 24, 2012 at 9:51 PM · Report this
@19 Parents can be legally compelled to arrange or allow some forms of medical treatment for their minor children. Every few years some Christian Scientists go to jail for allowing their child to die to readily treatable disease.
Posted by rocketgeek on April 24, 2012 at 11:00 PM · Report this
Actually, what happened is Washington changed the procedures for reporting pertussis back in February 2011. It used to take tons and tons of paperwork, so doctors wanted to avoid diagnosing someone with pertussis whenever possible. Now all they have to do is call the health department to report it, so doctors aren't as reluctant to run pertussis tests on anyone that comes in with a cough.
Posted by MatthewStone on April 24, 2012 at 11:16 PM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 22
@10 You need smarter friends.
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on April 24, 2012 at 11:23 PM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 23
My friend's soon-to-be-published book is OT here:…
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on April 24, 2012 at 11:30 PM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 24
...and by "OT," I mean "on topic." Forgot that's usually used to mean the opposite!
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on April 24, 2012 at 11:33 PM · Report this
@7 wrong, my friends mom goes around and forces people to take their meds for TB for a living. Public health issues can be mandated, we are simply choosing not to which is a huge mistake.
Posted by econoline on April 24, 2012 at 11:35 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 26
The Constitution takes a back seat to public health emergencies. Sorry.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on April 25, 2012 at 12:07 AM · Report this
Allyn 27
I know I’m supposed to be responsible and all, but I can’t recall when/if I’ve EVER had a booster of any vaccine – except tetanus a few years back. Can’t tell you which year it was, though…

And since whooping cough is no big deal for most adults, we don’t think about the dangers. Even seeing those PSA’s, it didn’t occur to me that I had endangered my infants. They get their vaccines on schedule, without fail, and I keep track of them. Mine, not so much.

I have an acquaintance who lost her infant son to a disease he was too young to be vaccinated against, and no one knows who passed it to him – there was no way to know.

You can’t just point to the anti-vaccination parents (they are a HUGE part of this issue, sure). We ALL need to go get vaccinated. Doctors need to be talking about this during annual check-ups and OB/GYNs need to mention this With Every Visit to be sure new moms and dads are immunized.

And we need to each be responsible in keeping track of our immunization records. Next time I see my doctor, I’ll bring this up and check with her about what boosters I may need to protect the kids around me.
Posted by Allyn on April 25, 2012 at 7:36 AM · Report this
@27: Excellent points all.
Posted by NateMan on April 25, 2012 at 8:12 AM · Report this
Simone 29
I got my whooping cough shot several weeks ago. I think they said that the shot will last a lifetime.
Posted by Simone on April 25, 2012 at 8:37 AM · Report this
Tdap is currently licensed for only one dose (…). So... the shot I got two years ago is supposed to last the rest of my life (5-6 decades)? I'm hoping with these outbreaks and the awareness that's been raised the last couple years, more research will be done into the effectiveness of the shot and how long it lasts. And I want another booster in a few years! I'm not going to take the chance of getting whooping cough again - it's awful.
Posted by Regina on April 25, 2012 at 8:40 AM · Report this
Okay, Wow a lot of mixed feelings here. I am the aunt of the baby (Kaliah) that died in August from Pertussis (Whooping Cough) in Snohomish County.

While they are ridiculous, It is not the anti vaccine people that are the culprit here. It is that the childhood vaccine was made safer in the 1990s and it now wears off, but no one ever told the population that it wore off! Less than 90% of all adults are vaccinated because they don't know the childhood vaccine wears off! This is the number one reason they are not vaccinated and the number one reason for the epidemics.

The vaccine you received as a child only lasts 5 to 10 years. The CDC only told the Department of Health and they only tell providers. They would not say anything about the epidemic until I forced them to. The CDC said and I quote "Unfortunately, these outbreaks help us " The state said they do not have to tell the public, I disagree.
I have around 1000 emails to the county state CDC and anyone else asking them to share it with the public.

I had the public service announcement quoted and also came up with the postcard idea and sent both of them to the state and the county. No one wanted to help until I threatened them with negative media attention. I had to force them to create the public service announcement with my Niece and force them to send out warning postcards to our county.

They have fought all along the way and are still fighting. I am interviewing with an organization today to create a bill requiring them to tell the citizens directly in the event of an epidemic in their area. Please ask your local health department who they tell in the event of an epidemic, I guarantee they will not say they tell you!
Posted by Kat Scott on April 25, 2012 at 8:55 AM · Report this
@30 They already know it will not last, they just don't have enough data yet to tell you how long it will last so they can't say anything yet. My concern is in 5 years when they tell the Department of Health, they will only tell providers again and we will go through this whole thing all over again! If we don't make them tell the public in the event of an epidemic or major CDC notification, this is what we have to look forward to. This is why we need a bill to require them to tell you if there is an epidemic. This epidemic has been here all years, yet they just announced it on April 3rd, because I forced them to.
Posted by Kat Scott on April 25, 2012 at 8:59 AM · Report this
Mike 33
Would it have been so hard to include information on where to get immunized in the actual post?…
Posted by Mike on April 25, 2012 at 9:03 AM · Report this
Here is the bill I am trying to create:Currently, there is no national master plan to inform the public in the event of an epidemic in any state!

There is no law requiring the CDC or Department of Health in any state, to tell the citizens in the event of an epidemic in their area. They only tell health care providers, or wait for enough illness for the media to get interested. This is in part because they do not have funding, and part because they believe that this is the best way to share it. We disagree. When was the last time your provider shared the CDC recommendations with you?

We want and need a national warning system in place so that the next time an important message needs to reach the citizens from the CDC, it actually goes to them. This bill will do that!
We want an official warning postcard to be sent to each household and business in the event of an epidemic or major CDC recommendation. The funds would come at the national level and be the CDC's responsibility to share their own message directly to the public, instead of the providers. They would also continue to monitor outbreak and epidemics everywhere in the nation, but report immediately any outbreaks or epidemic threats via this warning system. They would also use the same system to share new, major recommendations that are vital to public health, such as the fact that a vaccine wears off in 5 to 10 years, when they originally told we could only get one a lifetime! As soon as an outbreak or epidemic begins, or a new recommendation, a notice is sent to all households and businesses in the affected area.

If it had been around, Chelsey would have known a baby had died in Eastern Washington just before Kaliah died from Pertussis and 2 prior to that. If it had been here, they would have told her there was an outbreak, Kaliah wouldn't have died. If they even would have told her, like they did after the fact, that this year they expected a lot of Pertussis cases, Kaliah wouldn't have died.

The CDC said and I quote "Unfortunately, these outbreaks help us do our job"

Because of limited space in the question form this is all that fits, so here is what we are asking for:
“Can we create a bill to require The DOH to send a postcard to all citizens in the event of an epidemic in their area? Currently, most of them only tell Health care Providers, not the public. A postcard, stating an epidemic warning from the DOH should be sent to every home and business in the event of an epidemic in their area.”…
Posted by Kat Scott on April 25, 2012 at 9:06 AM · Report this
Allyn 35
I am sorry for your loss. I'll be following the links you've provided (I've just read your past post). Thank you for all the information.

My regards to you and your family.
Posted by Allyn on April 25, 2012 at 9:08 AM · Report this
It's that the FEDERAL government is potentially unable to force people to get vaccinated. However, the state government can focrce people to do pretty much anything they want under the general police power. The state has the power to enforce almost anything related to the health and welfare of the populace.

So it's the state that should require people to vaccinate their children. But then again, I'm not anti-science so maybe I don't understand.
Posted by Takmac on April 25, 2012 at 9:25 AM · Report this
@35 Allyn, you are welcome, please share if you find them interesting! Kat
Posted by Kat Scott on April 25, 2012 at 9:34 AM · Report this
Thanks for the info, Kat, and I'm so sorry about your niece. There's been a terrible lack of information/awareness about pertussis - until I came down with it myself two years ago, I had no idea that whooping cough was even a threat anymore. I had no idea that my childhood vaccination wasn't effective anymore. I had no idea that there was an adult shot. And I had no idea how awful the illness is. It's fucking AWFUL. If more people knew how fucking awful it really is, they'd go get themselves and their kids immunized, and they'd demand more information from their doctors/health department/CDC/vaccine maker etc.
Posted by Regina on April 25, 2012 at 10:52 AM · Report this
MichaelPgh 39
Oh, but vaccinations cause autism! For the Bible tells me so.
Posted by MichaelPgh on April 25, 2012 at 11:19 AM · Report this
keshmeshi 40
While I agree with many commenters that #7 is completely full of shit, I still think that the anti-vaxxers can be dealt in ways that don't involve forcibly vaccinating their children.

Every institution, public or private, that is regulated by the government in any way should lay down the law that any child who has not been vaccinated (by choice) is not welcome within their doors. Exceptions would only be made in cases where those institutions can't ethically turn them away (such as children admitted into hospitals for emergency care). But every regulated day care, school, summer camp, college, and even hospital (in the case of elective care) should blackball unvaccinated children.

The anti-vaxxers would cave so fast, your head would spin.
Posted by keshmeshi on April 25, 2012 at 12:13 PM · Report this
Would you please share this link if you agree with it?

Whooping Cough Epidemic Showcases Shortcomings in System

Little Kaliah Jeffery (above) was healthy when she was born last summer. But 27 days later, she was dead, a victim of whooping cough (pertussis), unknowingly passed on to her by her mother.

Help us report about the whooping cough. Is there an outbreak in your state? Join the story.

Now Kaliah’s family is trying warn others about the dangers of pertussis and also about the fact that the TDAP vaccines most children receive against the disease may lose their effectiveness after five to 10 years and need to be updated. And they’re also pushing Congress and health organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control to develop more effective warning mechanisms when outbreaks begin.

Worst outbreak in 60 years

Kaliah died in August, but not until early April did Washington State health officials acknowledge the existence of a pertussis epidemic. And now, they say, it may be the worst such outbreak in the state in 60 days, with more than 1,000 cases already reported this year.

Yet under current guidelines, organizations such as the CDC need to warn only health-care providers, not the general public. Had Kaliah’s mother, only 17, known that her childhood vaccination was no longer protecting her against the disease, she might have been able to get a booster shot that would have prevented her from getting the cough – and then passing it on to Kaliah.

“90 percent of the adults in the country are not vaccinated against pertussis,” said Kaliah’s aunt, Kennetha Scott, who has created a web site about her niece. “CDC never told them childhood vaccine wore off.”

In fact, Scott noted, shortly after Kaliah was born, she was at a birthday party with several other babies, all of whom could also have been exposed to the disease – again because no one knew about the outbreak or the danger.

Putting the question to Congress

Scott has used the Ask your Lawmaker web site to contact members of Congress and find out whether they would support legislation requiring the CDC or other organizations to notify the general public, rather than only health-care providers, in the event of epidemics.

Ask Your Lawmaker, an affiliate of NewsiT, put the question to her representative, Rick Larsen, a Democrat.

“I think that’s an excellent idea,” Larsen said. He said he believes the CDC does also contact public health departments as well as health-care providers, but those agencies often are limited in their effectiveness at spreading the word. “Their budgets basically depend upon the local taxpayers. And with the economy being down in Washington State as it has been, there have been a lot of cuts in our public health departments. So I would hope as the economy recovers, tax receipts for public health departments recover, and they’ll have more dollars to put back into public information.”

In the meantime, Scott has persuaded the local health department to mail post cards about the pertussis epidemic and the TDAP booster to all residents of Snohomish County, Wash., where she lives. But she’s frustrated that it’s taken eight months to get to this point.

“They would have been quiet still to this day if we hadn’t done that,” she said. “It’s scary.”

Contribute to this story. Have you or anyone you know had a bad cough recently? Did the doctor test for pertussis? Talk about needing a booster shot?…
Posted by Kat Scott on April 25, 2012 at 7:07 PM · Report this

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