Ashland, Oregon, according to its chamber of commerce website, “is a pretty, small town, surrounded by gorgeous mountains, lazy creeks, and roaring rivers.” According to the Ashland Daily Tidings, it’s also surrounded by an outbreak of whooping cough.
“So far this year 23 cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, have been confirmed in the county, more than twice the number usually seen in a whole year,” reports the Ashland Daily Tidings.
The pretty, little town featured prominently in “The Vaccine Wars’ , a Frontline episode about vaccine rejectionism broadcast in April. Ashland’s parents are more prone than those in most communities to withhold some or all vaccines from their children in the mistaken belief they cause autism or other developmental disorders. According to the city’s website, the autism rate in Ashland is higher than the national average.
A health official quoted in today’s article says the City of Ashland “hasn’t seen especially high numbers of infections so far.” The population of Jackson County is about 205,000, and only 10 percent of its residents live in Ashland.
The west coast is currently suffering an outbreak of pertussis not seen in years. Over 900 cases have been reported in Calfornia this year, triple the expected number. The disease has claimed five infants in the Golden State, all younger than three months old. The worst outbreaks have been reported in the Bay Area, Los Angeles County, Orange County and Fresno County.
The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department has reportedly identified more than 100 cases of whooping cough this year. The county reported two cases of pertussis in 2009 and 17 in 2008.