DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) - Cases of pertussis have soared above the five-year average in Iowa and health officials recommend that parents protect their children by making sure they are vaccinated.
The Quad-City Times reported (http://bit.ly/HXYkk7) that so far in 2012 Iowa had recorded 92 cases of pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough. Officials said that's an 83 percent increase over Iowa's five-year average.
Many of those cases have been reported in Scott and Linn counties, in eastern Iowa. An outbreak also was reported in April in Polk County.
Pertussis spreads through the air when an infected person coughs. The cough can worsen over several weeks before developing into uncontrollable coughing spells. The illness can last for months.
Edward Rivers, director of the Scott County Health Department, said most cases have been among children, but people of other ages have recently reported getting sick.
Dr. Louis Katz, the Scott County Health Department's medical director, said parents should make sure to give their children age-appropriate vaccinations. Children in Iowa aren't required to have a pertussis booster, called TDaP, though most states require such shots.
National recommendations call for children to have TDaP boosters at age 11 or 12.
Although Iowa doesn't require the shots, Illinois will begin requiring the TDaP boosters for the next school year.
Iowa Department of Public Health officials have begun discussing whether the state should require vaccinations. Forty states have such a requirement, including all of Iowa's neighbors except South Dakota.