AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine health officials issued a public alert Tuesday about the increasing number of whooping cough cases reported this year compared to 2011.
Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a highly communicable, vaccine-preventable disease that can last many weeks. The disease can cause serious illness and can even be life-threatening, especially in infants.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported 300 cases of pertussis from Jan. 1 to July 26 in 13 counties. That’s four times the number of cases reported during the same period in 2011. Out of the 205 whooping cough cases reported in 2011, 75 of those were reported during the same period, according to the Maine CDCP website.
Like many other states, Maine has seen a rise in the number of whooping cough cases during the past year. The majority of reported cases occurred among those between the ages of 7 and 19.
Nationally, 37 states reported increases in pertussis cases by early July, with almost 18,000 cases reported to the federal CDC by mid-July.
Maine CDCP reported 15 whooping cough outbreaks in five counties during 2011, including Cumberland, Kennebec, Hancock, Penobscot and Waldo.
Of the 205 reported cases to the CDC in 2011, 137 were in Penobscot County.