Outbreak of whooping cough continues in Washington

An outbreak of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, has continued to grow in the state of Washington, with 2,092 cases statewide so far in 2012.

The number of cases of pertussis has dwarfed the 64 cases that were reported during the same time frame in 2011. The state's Grant County has experienced 13 of the cases, compared with an average of two to four cases reported during the same period in years prior to 2010. The Grant County cases have occurred in Mattawa, Quincy, Ephrata and Moses Lake, the Crescent Bar Chronicle reports.

"Public health nurses at the Grant County Health District continue to investigate cases," Theresa Fuller, the county's public information officer, said, according to the Crescent Bar Chronicle.

The Grant County Health District and multiple clinics have started to offer free Tdap vaccines for uninsured adults in the county who have close contact with young children and infants.

"If you think you qualify for this program, first contact your healthcare provider," Carol Schimke, the county's immunization coordinator and a public health nurse, said, according to the Crescent Bar Chronicle. "If you do not have a healthcare provider or your provider does not have the free Tdap vaccine, please contact us at the Moses Lake Office."

The health district reminded patients to take their entire prescription of pertussis antibiotics and for residents at risk to get their vaccinations as soon as possible.