Wisconsin has nation's highest whooping cough rate

the Associated Press

Nurses Fatima Guillen (left) and Fran Wendt (right) give Kimberly Magdeleno, 4, a Tdap whooping cough booster shot, as she is held by her mother, Claudia Solorio last week at a health clinic in Tacoma, Wash. Washington also has a pertussis epidemic, with more than 1,100 cases reported this year. Photo: Image by Associated Press

Wisconsin has nation's highest whooping cough rate

CREATED Aug. 17, 2012 - UPDATED: Aug. 17, 2012

MADISON- Wisconsin has the nation's highest rate of whooping cough cases, as the U.S. appears headed for its worst year for the disease in more than five decades.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says through July 5, the disease occurred in nearly 51 of 100,000 people in Wisconsin.

That's nearly 10 times the national average. Washington had the second highest rate, with about 39 cases per 100,000 residents.

"This is a wakeup call for Milwaukee and Wisconsin," said Milwaukee Health Commissioner Bevan Baker to TODAY'S TMJ4.   "...We're worried. School starts in two weeks. And there are going to be a lot of kids sitting in there.  And those who are not vaccinated could keep the spread of this disease for the next several months, if not year."

Washington has declared an epidemic. Wisconsin has not.

Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a highly contagious respiratory illness. For adults, it may seem like a bad cold. But, for infants it can potentially be deadly.

The State Journal reports one infant with pertussis died in February in Wisconsin.