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Courtenay Edelhart covers health care for The Californian. Reach her at, at or on Twitter@TBCHealth.

WHOOPING COUGH SURGE: The state is warning parents and health care providers that whooping cough is on the rise.

There were 1,711 cases of the highly contagious bacterial disease reported to the state from January through April of this year, more than triple the number of cases in the same period last year, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Kern County's 33 cases earned it the 19th highest rate of infection of the state's 58 counties. That translates to an incidence rate of 3.81 cases for every 100,000 residents.

Sonoma led the state with a rate of 62.97, followed by Marin (28.53), Tehama (28.38), Trinity (22.32) and Fresno (12.62).

Seventeen counties reported no cases of whooping cough.

Also known by the clinical name pertussis, whooping cough is cyclical -- peaking every three to five years.

"The last peak in California was in 2010, and now we are concerned that the recent increase in reported cases suggests that another cyclical peak is beginning," said Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health.

Youngsters are particularly vulnerable to the disease, which is primarily spread by coughing.

Of the 77 cases this year serious enough to require hospitalization, 90 percent involved children age 17 or younger, and 65 percent were infants less than four months old.

Vaccinations are the best protection from the disease. DTaP is a combination vaccine that protects against whooping cough, diphtheria and tetanus.

A series of the four shots is recommended between the ages of 2 months and 18 months, and once more between the ages of 4 and 6.

A booster is required prior to entering seventh grade.

Whooping cough symptoms include runny nose, low-grade fever, and in infants, persistent coughing often punctuated by loud gasps.

For information on whooping cough, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at Content is available in English and Spanish.


One more heads up from the state.

The California Department of Public Health is also warning people with milk allergies away from Dave's Blueberry Muffins and Dave's Banana Nut Muffins, both of which contain milk that's not printed among the ingredients on the label.

Most people with milk allergies suffer mild symptoms such as gas and cramping, but for severely sensitive people it can be fatal.

Recalled products have a picture of a cornucopia on the front and can be returned to the retailer where they were purchased for a refund.

If you aren't sure if you have the affected muffins, you can view photos of the product and its packaging online at

Direct questions to Gardena-based Bake R Us at (310) 630-5873.


Schools have partnered with Kern Green for the Just Say No to Idling campaign.

Parents often sit in cars with the engine running while waiting to pick up students from school or after school activities.

Doing that contributes pollution to Kern's already smoggy air, so educators are trying to discourage the practice.

As part of the campaign, campuses will be establishing no idling zones to improve air quality and create a healthier environment for students.

Children breath 50 percent more air per pound than adults, and asthma is the most common illness causing local students to miss school.

Kern Green is a local nonprofit dedicated to environmental education and awareness.

For information, visit


A biking organization has developed free electronic apps designed to promote good health through bicycling , and it has rolled out one especially for Bakersfield.

My City Bikes brings together all of a community's beginner-friendly commuter, road, mountain and recreational biking options in one centralized, localized free smartphone app.

The app is available for users of Apple phones on iTunes and on Google Play for Android mobile phone users.

Check out apps for cities throughout the United States and Canada at


Treating older men with early-stage prostate cancer may be a waste of time if there are other serious health problems, according to a new study from UCLA.

Aggressive intervention such as surgery or radiation does not help such patients live longer and in some cases makes things worse, according to researchers.

The retrospective study, which followed more than 140,500 men aged 66 and older for 15 years, found that men with serious underlying medical conditions did not have a reduction in risk of death from cancer because they were more likely to die from something else.

Researchers urge prostate cancer patients who have other potentially lethal conditions to consider the findings as they weigh whether or not to treat their disease.

The UCLA study was published May 14 in the journal Cancer.


Low-income children who need braces may be eligible for assistance from the nonprofit charity Smiles Change Lives, which partners with local orthodontists to provide deeply discounted care.

Dr. Jared Gianquinto of Ortho Arts in Bakersfield is among the providers in the network.

To see if you meet income eligibility guidelines, visit:


Chronic viral hepatitis affects as many as 5.3 million Americans, and most don't know they're infected.

Monday was the third national Hepatitis Testing Day. The observance was established in the Action Plan for the Prevention Care & Treatment of Viral Hepatitis.

If you've never been screened, it's a good idea to get checked out to avoid complications such as cirrhosis of the liver.


Omni Family Health has announced seven winners of its annual $1,000 scholarship award.

The winners were Dalia Garcia of Centennial High, Heather Howell of Ridgeview High School, Judith Martinez of Ridgeview High School, Regina Gutierrez of Cesar E. Chavez High School, Rachel Tarmidi of Stockdale High School, Niharika Reddy of Stockdale High School and Cristina Diaz of Taft High School.

Omni is a nonprofit health care provider with clinics at 17 sites throughout Kern County.


San Joaquin Community Hospital's marketing department has won 15 national marketing awards from two organizations honoring its work in 2013.

It won seven Aster Awards and eight Healthcare Marketing Report awards.

The Aster Awards recognize excellence in health care marketing, and winers are published in Marketing Healthcare Today. The Healthcare Marketing Report is an industry trade publication.