More than a dozen states are seeing another surge in whooping cough cases this year. The deadly epidemic that swept the country in 2010 was the worst outbreak in more than 60 years. A new study in pediatrics finds a link between the outbreak and California communities, where large numbers of parents refused to vaccinate their children due to personal or religious beliefs. The epidemic killed 10 infants and sickened more than 9,000 people in the state. Whooping cough or Pertusis is a highly contagious, bacterial infection that causes severe coughing fits. Experts say refusing vaccinations is not the only culprit behind recent outbreaks. Previous studies show vaccine protection wanes over time. Babies can't be vaccinated until they're a few months old, and even then it takes months to build immunity. Since the epidemic, California passed a law that makes it harder for parents to opt out of vaccines for non-medical reasons. Health officials encourage pregnant women to get vaccinated to prevent spreading whooping cough to newborns. Caregivers and anyone around newborns are also advised to keep their vaccinations up to date.
Copyright 2013 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.