A total of 9,935 cases of whooping cough were reported this year in California, the State That Can't Catch a Break. "We'd have to go way back to the 1940s to find more cases," says Dr. Eric McDonald, a public health services medical director in San Diego County.
Officials are attributing the epidemic not to low inoculation rates, but to the questionable effectiveness of the pertussis vaccine—in place since the '90s to improve on the painful side effects of its predecessor—which studies show might not prevent the spread of the disease. (Doctors emphasize that the inoculation has led to fewer deaths than in the past and in instances where people do get sick, their illnesses aren't as severe.)
That said, in another recent outbreak in Michigan, the Grand Traverse County Health Department noted that 10 of 15 cases were not vaccinated or up-to-date on their vaccine. Vaccine refusals were a major factor in last year's epidemic—unsurprisingly, seeing as a number of wealthy Los Angeles schools have immunization rates roughly equivalent to developing countries like Chad. To conclude, we're not not pinning this on Jenny McCarthy.
Image via Dmitry Lobanov/Shutterstock.