SPOKANE COUNTY--Whooping cough has reached epidemic levels here in Spokane County.
Health officials say there are currently nine times as many cases compared to this time last year, the worst outbreak in 60 years. In just the last week, the number of whooping cough cases has skyrocketed in the county.
So far this year, 1,484 cases have been reported in Washington. That’s up drastically from the 965 total cases reported statewide in all of 2011. Spokane County is seeing its own epidemic with 34 reported cases.
Epidemiologist Mark Springer says one reason Spokane is seeing such high numbers is because more people are getting tested for whooping cough. Springer says the outbreak could’ve been prevented if more families opted for vaccinations.
In Spokane County, 81% of children under 6 received only the first of five shots and Springer says there's no telling if those families finished the vaccinations.
No babies have died in 2012, but two babies died in 2010 and two in 2011. One baby died in Idaho two weeks ago.