Colorado's 2012 whooping cough epidemic growing

DENVER - Colorado's whooping cough epidemic has topped the 1,000 case mark.

State health officials reported 1,026 cases of pertussis on Monday.

"Whooping cough cases continue to mount in Colorado, and every new case is a reminder that we need to ensure everyone is up-to-date on their whooping cough immunizations," said Dr. Rachel Herlihy, director of the Immunization Section at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. "It's especially important for those who have contact with young children, who are more vulnerable to whooping cough."

As of Oct. 6, the counties reporting the most cases were along the Front Range:

  • Denver 165 cases
  • Jefferson County 154 cases
  • Adams 151 cases
  • Arapahoe 128 cases
  • Boulder 121 cases

This is the worst year in Colorado for whooping cough since 2005 when the state had 1,383 cases, officials said. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is recommending everyone get a vaccination or a vaccination booster shot to fight whooping cough.

Over the past five years, Colorado has averaged 324 cases per year.

Pertussis is a contagious illness that is spread via sneezes and coughs and, if left untreated with antibiotics, can progress into coughing fits followed by vomiting, breathlessness and a whooping sound. Individuals with pertussis should avoid contact with others until they have taken five full days of an appropriate antibiotic, state health officials said. For more information on whooping cough, go to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's website.