21 cases of pertussis this year in Walker County

JASPER, Ala. (AP) - Authorities say Walker County has reported 21 cases of pertussis - or whooping cough -so far this year, with the worst outbreak in the Carbon Hill area.

Authorities also warned that the entire state has been experiencing an increase in the disease, which is potentially fatal to infants.

In 2008, 92 cases of whooping cough were reported statewide; so far this year, 148 cases have been reported in Alabama.

Dr. Karen Landers of the state Department of Public Health office in Tuscumbia said the disease poses the greatest threat to infants, particularly those less than a year old, as well as children who are not adequately vaccinated.

Children are routinely protected from whooping cough with the diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis vaccination, a series of five shots started during infancy.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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