For the first time in 20 years, California health officials reported no deaths from whooping cough – a lung disease that killed 10 infants and sickened 9,000 state residents in 2010.
Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health, tied the turnaround to increased public health campaigns, better care and vaccination.
"Greater awareness of the disease, more rapid diagnosis and treatment, and increased vaccination rates contributed to saving the lives of infants," said Chapman in a statement. "I thank our public health and medical communities for working together and being especially vigilant following the 2010 epidemic."
In response to the epidemic of whooping cough – also known as pertussis – in 2010, state officials worked with local health departments and care providers across the state to raise awareness and target the disease.
The state also offered free vaccines to hospitals. In addition, a new state law implemented last year required students in 7th -12th grades for the first time to get a booster shot. The new school law will apply to all students entering 7th grade in 2012 and beyond.
While whooping cough cases remained high -- at more than 3,000 cases in 2011 -- there have been no deaths since October 13, 2010. In 1991, there were only 249 reported pertussis cases in California.
Young infants are the most vulnerable to serious whooping cough complications. Officials also note that immunity provided by pertussis vaccine wanes over time, so a booster shot is needed.