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Whooping Cough Cases Reaching Record Levels in Washington

from NPR

There have been 21 cases of whooping cough in Idaho so far this year. That's down from the same time last year. But in Washington State the number of whooping cough cases has reached epidemic levels. The disease is spreading so rapidly that health officials are urging adults and children to get vaccinated.

Washington Secretary of Health Mary Selecky announced today that as of last month, there have been 640 cases of whooping cough. That's compared to 94 in the same period last year. "If this pace continues, we're on track to have the highest number of whooping cough cases in our state in decades," Selecky says.

Whooping cough is the common name for pertussis. It's a highly contagious bacterial disease that affects all ages. It spreads through coughing and sneezing. It can be fatal for babies because their immune system isn't fully developed, and they're too young for vaccination.

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