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Whooping cough cases now number more than 1,000

The whooping cough epidemic in Washington has now passed 1,000 reported cases, state health officials said Tuesday.

The total — 1,008 as of April 21 — is more than last year's total and is the highest number of cases since 1,026 were reported in 2005.

Officials said the state was on pace to top 3,000 cases in 2012.

“We’re very concerned about the risk to infants, especially because of how quickly whooping cough is spreading,” said Secretary of Health Mary Selecky.

“Whooping cough can be life threatening for infants, and they’re too young to get enough doses of vaccine to be protected. That’s why we want everyone else to make sure they’re vaccinated against whooping cough,” Selecky added.

A total of 26 cases have been reported in Kitsap County.

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, has been reported in 71 cases so far this year involving infants under 1 year old in Washington.

Eighteen of the infants have been hospitalized, but none have died this year, state health officials said. Two babies died from the disease in 2010 and two also perished in 2011.

Health officials are reminding parents that the vaccine for pertussis wears off over time, so children age 11 to 12 should get a whooping cough booster shot, called Tdap.

The Tdap vaccine is also recommended for pregnant women and women who recently gave birth.

Officials said getting vaccinated before giving birth helps prevent the mother from spreading the illness to her newborn.

More information on whooping cough disease and who should be vaccinated can be found at www.doh.wa.gov.

 

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