Whooping Cough Epidemic Grows

Oct 9, 2012

Washington state’s whooping cough epidemic continues to grow. State health officials say the latest number of reported cases has topped 4,300.

Mary Selecky is the Secretary of Health. She tells KUOW that despite the rise, she is seeing a positive development.

"The good news is more people, adults and kids, are getting immunized against whooping cough, so we’re hoping that at some point, we will only see the number of cases that we routinely see on a non-epidemic year," Selecky says. "I mean right now, we’ve got ten times the amount that we had a year ago.”

Selecky says every county except for one has reported cases of whooping cough. Garfield County has none, but officials say it could still have unreported cases.

Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a highly contagious illness caused by bacteria. It mainly affects the respiratory system and can be very serious for babies and young children. Symptoms include a bad cough or fever.

There are no reported deaths from whooping cough this year. There were two last year.

Selecky also touted the state’s rate of childhood vaccinations. Washington state is now above the national average after being far below for years.

Copyright 2012 KUOW