Whooping cough is exploding nationwide. Valley doctors are urging vaccinations, saying the disease could be deadly for young children.
Whooping cough, also known as Pertussis, is more than just a bad cough. The severity of the cough has been known to break ribs.
"We're seeing quite a few kids come in with these coughs, we've identified many cases of Pertussis recently," said Dr. Dustin Monroe with Phoenix Children's Hospital.
According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, there were 867 cases of whooping cough in 2011. So far this year, there have been 660 cases. Officials say the state is on track to have more cases this year.
"We have very good vaccines that treat the conditions, but more and more families are delaying or not receiving the full course of immunizations," said Monroe.
The bacteria that causes whooping cough can spread easily from person to person, warn health professionals.
The state health department says infants make up a lot of the cases because they can't start the vaccination process until they're 2 months old.
In a previous interview with CBS 5 news, Natalie and Richie Norton said their 10-week-old baby Gavin died from the disease.
"Our son was too young to be vaccinated. It wasn't that we opted not to vaccinate him, and then he contracted Pertussis. He would have received that vaccine at his next well baby check," said Natalie Norton.
"My baby suffered because of other people who hadn't vaccinated. Our son died of whooping cough which passed from one person to another person and then down to our baby," said Richie Norton.
Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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