RICHMOND (KCBS) – After infections hit a record high last year, whooping cough is on the rise again in Contra Costa County.

KCBS’ Dave Padilla Reports:

Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a highly contagious respiratory illness, and Contra Costa Health Services Immunization Coordinator Erika Jenssen said it’s spreading fast.

”In 2011 we’ve already seen 78 cases here in Contra Costa, which is a lot,” said Jenssen. “It means we’re on track to break last year’s record.”

In 2010, county health officials reported 205 cases of whooping cough.

Jenssen said that because this disease is preventable, children, and especially infants, need to be vaccinated.

”What we’re worried about is that there are a lot of people getting sick, and particularly infants,” said Jenssen. “We’ve had three infants hospitalized in 2011 and we really want to protect them.”

A new state law means that students in private and public schools entering 7th through 12th grade must be immunized against whooping cough before they can start school in the fall.

Free drop-in immunization clinics are also available. Visit for times and locations.

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