Back to school whooping cough woes - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Back to school whooping cough woes

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KENNEWICK, Wash. - As kids enjoy their final days of summer vacation, back to school preparations mean more than just shopping for clothes and supplies. 2012 has been the worst year for whooping cough in five decades.

Doctors at the Benton Franklin Health District say the epidemic has yet to let it up. It was declared for Washington State in April and more than 3,500 cases of whooping cough have been reported this year. Ninety of those were in Benton and Franklin Counties, ten times more than last year and state health officials say they are getting reports of more cases every month.

"One of the biggest groups we are seeing cases in are kids ages 10 to 13, so we are a little bit concerned that once they all get back into school and around each other we may see a jump in the numbers," said Dr. Amy Person with the Health District.

The Health Department reminds parents their kids need to be vaccinated. Whooping cough is highly contagious, often spread by sneezing or coughing. Kids should remember to wash their hands often, cover their coughs and stay home if they're sick.