NY health commissioner urges pertussis vaccinations

Whooping cough is on the rise in New York, and the state health commissioner is urging parents to make sure their kids are vaccinated against the disease, also called pertussis.

The health department reports 383 cases of pertussis for the first eight months of 2010, compared to 181 cases for the same period in 2009. New York State's most recent peak year for pertussis was in 2004, when nearly 2,000 cases were reported.

About 30 percent of patients with pertussis require hospitalization. Health Commissioner Richard Daines says the illness is quite contagious and can be especially serious for infants under a year old.

The bacterial infection causes severe coughing fits that may be followed by a whooping noise. The cough may last for months.