Atlanta, GA—Nearly 18,000 cases of whooping cough (pertussis) have been reported so far in 2012, more than twice the number seen at this point last year in the U.S. According to the CDC, if this pace continues, the number of cases will be the highest in more than 50 years. Health investigators theorize that this increase may be due to shortcomings in the current pertussis vaccine, which is safer but may not be as effective long-term as the older version. Nine babies have died so far this year from whooping cough, and health officials have called on pregnant women and adults who spend time around children to get a booster shot as soon as possible. Washington State, with over 3,000 reported cases, has been hit particularly hard, and the department of health has declared an epidemic in that state.
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