WA health secretary updates pertussis outbreak

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SHORELINE, Wash. (AP) -- Washington state's top health official says whooping cough disease has reached epidemic levels in the state.

Health Secretary Mary Selecky says the 640 cases reported in 23 counties so far this year puts the state on a pace to have the highest number in decades.

Selecky on Tuesday urged whooping cough vaccines for all children and adults.

Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory illness spread by coughing and sneezing.

The disease -- known for coughing fits with a whooping sound -- is most dangerous for infants. Four have died in the previous two years in Washington.