Health officials have warned Long Beach residents of a significant increase in whooping cough cases in the city so far this year compared with the same period in 2013.

City officials reported 43 Pertussis cases, also known as whooping cough in 2014. Long Beach reported five cases between Jan. 1 and May 1 of 2013. A total of 15 whooping cases were recorded in 2013 while 2012 had four cases in file.

Pertussis is a contagious disease that can be spread through the cough of an infected person. No deaths have been reported but school-age children are reportedly the most infected in 2014. One of the factors that may have caused the rise in whooping cough cases this year is children and adolescents not getting the booster shots for Pertussis immunization. Young children are recommended to receive five doses of DTap vaccine to prevent infection before kindergarten. Seventh grade students are required to take booster shots while doctors encourage pregnant women to receive shots during the third trimester of pregnancy.

Health care workers who are usually near infants are also advised to take boosters. It could also be that infected children return to school sooner than recommended and not treating it in a timely manner.

"The concern is that this is a significant increase," Dr. Mitchell Kushner, Long Beach city officer said. "Kids are going to school with a persistent cough, and just thinking it's a cold or just a bad cough. A recent rise in Pertussis in the city of Long Beach serves as a reminder that all age groups need to be properly immunized against this highly contagious disease."

Early symptoms of whooping cough are a runny nose and cough that persist for around two weeks. The condition may worsen to more weeks or months of severe coughing fits and when an infant gets infected, he or she may even experience a more severe whooping cough and vomiting. Infected people can take antibiotics to treat Pertussis but they are encouraged to stay home for around five days while taking it. Complications can occur and result to seizures and pneumonia and in rare cases, even death.

Health officials encourage Long Beach residents to immunize their families against whooping cough. They can call 211 or the health department's immunization program at (562) 570-4516. For low cost vaccinations, residents can call 562-570-4315.

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