Washington state whooping cough outbreak continues

The whooping cough epidemic in Washington state continues to spread after rising to 2,883 reported cases of the disease.

The state has reported more than 2,000 new cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, since an epidemic was declared on April 3. The Department of Health has ordered 14,000 additional doses of vaccine for uninsured adults to go along with 27,000 doses previously sent to local health and tribal partners.

"Infants are most at risk for very serious illness from whooping cough, and many are made sick by an adult who didn't know they were carrying the illness," Maxine Hayes, the state's health officer, said. "All teens and adults should get the Tdap shot. Even people who don't have close contact with babies can spread the illness to babies when they're in public."

Babies under the age of two months are at high risk for serious illness and are too young to receive the vaccination. There have been 173 reported pertussis cases in infants in 2012, with 38 resulting in hospitalization.

Teens and adults require a booster Tdap to ensure they are not spreading the disease to others. In addition, they should stay home when they're sick, wash their hands often and go to the doctor for a prolonged cough. Adults who are uninsured can contact their local health agency to find out where the vaccine supplied by the state is available.

A vaccination promotion campaign in the state also includes television, billboard, bus and radio ads throughout Washington.