Is less effective pertussis vaccine the “new normal”?

The numbers for 2014 are still coming in, but it’s already clear that California had more confirmed cases of pertussis (“whooping cough”) in 2014 than in any year since 1945. These numbers are not just about low vaccination rates; these numbers  also tell the story of vaccine failure, what California public health officials warn may be the “new normal.”  What is Pertussis? Pertussis (aka. “whooping cough”) is caused by a bacteria named Bordetella pertussis, but similar cough illnesses can be caused by other Bordetella species. The disease has 3 stages — a catarrhal stage, a paroxysmal stage, and a convalescent stage. If caught early, the symptoms and communicability can be lessened with a course of antibiotics. If not caught early, the germ makes a toxin (pertussis toxin, and some researchers also suspect a second “cough toxin”) that can lead to a person coughing, often violently, for weeks or months.  After 3 […]

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