Reports: Washington state pertussis cases increased tenfold since May 2011
NEW YORK — Budget cuts have added an extra challenge to the response of health authorities in Washington state to an epidemic of whooping cough, according to published reports.
According to a report by the Washington State Department of Health, there were 1,284 cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, reported so far for 2012, compared with 128 during the same period last year. No deaths have been reported so far.
The Associated Press reported that the state government had created special fund to contain the outbreak, which officials had declared an epidemic, but budget cuts had made the job more difficult; for example, the Public Health Department of Skagit County, Wash., had half the staff it did in 2008, while preventive care programs had mostly disappeared.
According to the article, while many states require children of school age to receive the pertussis vaccine, Washington state had the highest percentage of parents in the country who opted out, which could be a factor in the current outbreak.