Oregon Public Broadcasting

Federal officials are looking into a huge spike of whooping cough cases in Washington state.

Oregon is also seeing more cases of the illness than last year.

pertussisvaccine_small.jpgPertussis vaccine, NIH file photo.

Washington has ten times as many cases of pertussis -- or whooping cough -- as it had a year ago. The Centers for Disease Control is investigating the more than 1,100 reported.

Oregon counts nearly 170 people with whooping cough -- up from 89, last year.

Three of them are at the Riverdale Grade School in Southwest Portland. Interim principal Al Fitzpatrick says the school got a head start on prevention, because a parent of the first sick child, told the school.

Fitzpatrick said "Letting the school have that information lets us then be pro-active, and notify our families."

Oregon health officials have received whooping cough reports from 14 Oregon counties - from Clatsop on the North Coast to Malheur County in the southeast corner.

The illness is best recognized by rapid coughing with a high-pitched "whoop," but the CDC says it starts with general cold symptoms. Unvaccinated infants are considered at greatest risk from the illness.

On the Web

Feds Probe Washington's Whooping Cough Epidemic

CDC: Pertussis: What You Need To Know

Hear the Cough

CDC: Fast Facts

This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

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