Sen. Cantwell asking for CDC help in whooping cough epidemic

KOMO TV - Staff

SEATTLE (AP) - The state Health Department and Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell are asking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help battle the whooping cough epidemic in Washington.

Health Secretary Mary Selecky is asking the CDC to send a special team of investigators and epidemiologist.

Selecky briefed Cantwell about the situation Friday at a state lab in Shoreline.

Selecky declared on April 3 that pertussis was an epidemic in the state. More than 1,100 cases have been reported this year - 10 times the number at this time last year.

"It just got a hold of us and it's staying here," she said. "We're at a tough point. Our folks are getting tired, and we need to look at this disease in a very different way so we're asking the centers for Disease Control to send us some experts."

Cantwell has asked the CDC to step in right away.

"We're hoping that kind of expertise can come in, look at the data and information about what's going on in Washington state and help us nip this more in the bud," she said.

Gov. Chris Gregoire announced Thursday the state is putting $90,000 into a public awareness campaign and diverting some federal money to pay for 27,000 doses of vaccine.

Adults are urged to get the shot to prevent spreading the disease to infants.

The first wave of the CDC's Epidemic Aid Team would be a three-person investigative unit.