Washington state enlists federal help to fight pertussis outbreak

Investigators from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were recently dispatched to Washington state to help determine what has caused a growing pertussis, or whooping cough, outbreak.

The state has confirmed more than 1,000 cases of the respiratory illness since the beginning of the year. There have been more than 10 times the number of reported cases this year than last year at this time, according to NPR.

Washington Governor Christine Gregoire asked the federal government for assistance and has been using the state's emergency funds to support more outreach efforts. To raise awareness of the growing epidemic, Washington has produced a series of public service announcements.

Gregoire has emphasized the need for residents to get properly vaccinated, especially in order to protect infants from the illness. The state has 27,000 doses of the vaccine to be given to those without health insurance.

"I don't come in contact with infants often," Gregoire said, NPR reports. "I'm sure others out there would say the same thing. I don't care. I made sure I have a current booster because I can come in contact with another adult; I can pass it on. It's up to us as adults to step up to the responsibility because our infants, our children, our babies are at risk."

Washington Secretary of Health Mary Selecky said that if the pace of the infection continues, more than 3,000 people could become infected by the end of the year.