HealthDay News – More than 3,400 new cases of pertussis were reported in California this year between January 1 and June 10, making the outbreak an official epidemic, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

The total rate of patients diagnosed with whooping cough so far in 2014 has passed the number of reported cases in 2013, the agency reported in a press release.

In a statement, the CDPH noted:

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  • 2,912 diagnoses (84%) have occurred in infants and patients aged 18 years or younger
  • 203 (7%) of pediatric patients were infants <6 months of age
  • 2,090 (72%) of patients were children/adolescents aged 7-16 years
  • Among 2,039 (70%) of persons with a diagnosis of pertussis for whom there was vaccination history information, 9% had never received pertussis-containing vaccine

Two-thirds of patients hospitalized with pertussis have been children aged 4 months or younger, and two infant deaths have been reported, according to the health department.

The agency suggests young infant patients are at greatest risk of hospitalization and death from pertussis, and encourages pregnant patients to receive the pertussis vaccine (Tdap) during the third trimester of every pregnancy.