Kansas reports whooping cough outbreak

An outbreak of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, in Johnson County, Kansas, has physicians in the state encouraging people to get vaccinations against the disease.

By Monday, 175 cases of pertussis were reported in Johnson County, with 34 of the cases confirmed. In 2012, 56 cases of pertussis have been confirmed in Kansas, which is more than the 52 cases confirmed in all of 2011, the Wichita Eagle reports.

"It's not uncommon to see them here and there," Jennifer Schwartz, the deputy state epidemiologist, said, according to the Wichita Eagle. "We're just seeing more this year, and most of them tend to be in Johnson County this year."

While the vaccination against pertussis is not 100 percent effective, it can reduce the severity of symptoms in case the disease is contracted. Vaccinations against pertussis are required for all children before they can go to public school, but religious exemptions are allowed.

Barbara Hersh, the public information officer for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said that while the vaccine is not required for adults, a booster can help to prevent transmission to younger children who have not gotten the vaccine. Pertussis is accompanied by cold-like symptoms and violent coughing that can last for weeks at a time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 27,550 cases of pertussis in the U.S. in 2010.