More Maine parents skipping their kids’ vaccinations as whooping cough spreads

From The Bangor Daily News:

By Jackie Farwell, BDN Staff
Posted Aug. 24, 2012

New federal data show more Maine parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children, a trend that worries health providers as an outbreak of whooping cough continues to worsen and students prepare to go back to school.

Vaccines are crucial to sparing both children and adults from whooping cough and other dangerous and preventable diseases, said Dr. Michael Ross of Husson Pediatrics in Bangor.

“Lack of their use leads to outbreaks like this,” he said.

Maine has recorded 411 cases of whooping cough this year, nearly five times the number of cases reported at this time in 2011. Most cases of the highly contagious disease have struck children ages 7-19. Within that group, two out of every 1,000 children ages 7-10 have been diagnosed with whooping cough in Maine this year.

The outbreak ranks Maine among the top 10 states in the nation for the incidence of whooping cough, or pertussis, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Whooping cough, which can spread through the coughing and sneezing of an infected person, has touched every county in the state. Cumberland, Somerset, Penobscot and Androscoggin counties have been hit the hardest.

The rise in Maine mirrors a nationwide trend. Washington state has declared an epidemic of whooping cough with more than 3,500 cases this year. The disease has been blamed for 13 deaths in the United States in 2012, mostly among infants under 3 months old.

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