Whoop it

It’s a sound you don’t want to hear: the whoop of a child or baby as she struggles to draw breath between bouts of bone-racking coughs. That’s where pertussis—commonly called “whooping cough”—gets its name, and it’s one nasty bug. The coughing spells associated with the disease can cause vomiting and even loss of consciousness, and it is potentially fatal.

California suffered through the worst outbreak of pertussis in five decades last fall. That’s why Assembly Bill 354, signed into law last December, requires all children in grades 7-12 be vaccinated against pertussis starting this July. Students will need proof of vaccination to register for school.

According to Dr. Glennah Trochet, Sacramento County’s top public health officer, there are roughly 112,000 kids entering those grades in the next year.

Because of a large outbreak of whooping cough in Sacramento County among middle-school and high-school students in 2005, Trochet’s office has been recommending vaccination for those age groups as part of their routine health care. “We’re hoping that we’re ahead of the curve on this, and that most of the children in this age group will already have been vaccinated,” Trochet said.

Meanwhile, Sacramento County is continuing to have new cases of whooping cough, which can quickly become life-threatening for infants and babies. People with questions about vaccinations are urged to call the health department’s immunization assistance line at (916) 875-7468. (Kel Munger)

A town named Smith

Flip through Sacramento’s analog phone book, for those of you who still have one, and you will see long columns for people named Patel, Nguyen, Tran, Torres and Wong. The names reflect the increasingly diverse population of the Sacramento region.

Even so, a new name-based map shows that the most common last names in the area—at least according to print phone books—are Smith, Davis and Anderson.

Researchers at the University College London looked at phone directories to find the most common surnames in each region of each state.

According to the geographers, the commonality of some names reflects long-ago immigration patterns, particularly from places such as England that already used a small pool of last names. As for the future? Given recent immigrations patterns, only time and the Patels, Nguyens, Trans, Torres and Wongs will tell.

To view the map, visit: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/02/geography/usa-surnames-interactive. (Hugh Biggar)

Documenting enemy aliens

War time is a bad time for U.S. civil liberties. Just ask Konrad Aderer.

In his film Enemy Alien: A Homeland Security Detainee’s Fight for Freedom, he highlights the case of Farouk Abdel-Muhti, a Muslim-American born in Palestine. The fight to free him from unlawful U.S. government detention after 9/11 leads Aderer to his Japanese-American grandmother. American authorities interned her and 17,000 Japanese-Americans as “enemy aliens” during World War II.

“The government’s mistreatment of Japanese-Americans 70 years ago is repeating itself in Muslim, Arab and South Asian American communities today,” said Andy Noguchi of the Northern California Time of Remembrance Committee.

Aderer’s film makes its Golden State premiere this Saturday, February 19, at the California Secretary of State auditorium (1500 11th Street; 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. screenings; $15 general, $10 students, free under 18 years; (916) 685-6747; www.nctor.org). (Seth Sandronsky)