Public health experts are now recommending that pregnant women get the vaccine for whooping cough during pregnancy. The recommendation is in response to the growing outbreak of the infection in the U.S. So far, there are more than 32,000 reported cases of whooping cough across the country. If the trend holds, it’s on track to be the highest number of cases since 1959.
Most public school students in the Northwest head back to class next week. And that has public health officials on alert. They're afraid that classrooms could be fertile ground for the spread of whooping cough, an infectious disease that's already being called an epidemic in some states.
Idaho has had its first death from pertussis in three years. An eastern Idaho infant died last week from the disease also known as whooping cough. But Idaho is not experiencing the epidemic some of its neighbors are.
A month ago Washington State’s Secretary of Health Mary Selecky declared a statewide epidemic of pertussis. She told KUOW more than 600 cases had been confirmed and 20 people had been hospitalized.
“If this pace continues we’re on track to have the highest number of whooping cough cases in our state in decades,” Selecky said.
There have been 21 reported cases of whooping cough in Idaho so far this 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.