Pertussis outbreak in Wash. continues to worsen

As the pertussis outbreak in Washington state continues to worsen, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported a new infection rate of 13 times more than at this time in 2011.

More than 2,500 people in total have contracted pertussis, also known as whooping cough, in the state this year. The incidence of the disease in the state is nine times higher than the national average, Discover Magazine reports.

The high numbers have been attributed in part to a possible resistance of the pertussis bacterium against the booster and vaccine. The anti-vaccination movement has also been blamed for the high rates, as Washington state ranks near the top in parental vaccination opt-outs compared to other states.

People who refuse to vaccinate their children may do it for religious reasons or for the false belief that autism could result from vaccinations. When vaccination rates drop, herd immunity can be compromised, which leads to more cases of vaccine-preventable diseases like pertussis, according to Discover Magazine.

Adults and children can receive vaccinations or boosters from their doctors.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pertussis causes violent coughing fits that can make it difficult to breathe. Pertussis can put infants at risk of dying and has killed eight infants so far in 2012 in the United States. Babies under the age of one are particularly at risk for the complications of the disease.