A vaccination is prepared at the Portland Community Health Center in 2015. Under-vaccinated communities are being blamed for the spike in whooping cough cases in York county.

KENNEBUNK, Maine — Maine health care experts say under-vaccinated communities are a prime suspect behind a spike in whooping cough in York County.

The Portland Press Herald reports that there have been 97 cases of pertussis in York County this year, including 25 cases in September alone. The highly contagious respiratory disease produces severe coughing that can linger for up to 10 weeks.

Maine in recent years has had one of the worst rates of pertussis in the country. Statewide numbers are down slightly this year, but Dr. Laura Blaisdell says York County’s numbers are alarming. Blaisdell, a Yarmouth pediatrician and vaccination advocate, said too many parents are opting out of childhood vaccines needed to start school, and the pockets of vaccine resistance in the state are worrisome.

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