Statewide whooping cough epidemic passes 3,000 cases

July 31, 2012

By Staff

State health officials said vaccination protection from whooping cough does not last as long as initially believed, but added that vaccination remains the best defense.

The number of pertussis, or whooping cough, cases statewide surpassed 3,000 in recent days. The state documented the most cases in vaccinated school-aged children.

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently published a report about the Washington epidemic. The report highlights more reported cases among 13-14 year olds — a changing trend across the United States. The prevalence of pertussis in the age group indicates a shorter duration for vaccine protection against whooping cough.

“Even so, vaccinated people who get whooping cough have milder symptoms, shorter illnesses and are less likely to spread the disease to others,” state Secretary of Health Mary Selecky said in a statement. “Our biggest concern is keeping babies from getting sick — and vaccination is still the best protection.”

Pertussis is highly contagious and spreads easily from person to person through coughing and sneezing. The disease is most serious for infants, especially children too young to receive the vaccination. Pertussis causes cold-like systems followed by a long, severe cough.

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