Whooping cough cases on the rise in Utah

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SALT LAKE CITY - State health experts say there's a record number of pertussis cases in Utah. They say pertussis vaccines do work, but there's a question as to how long they're effective.

Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a bacterial respiratory infection marked by a deep, long-lasting cough.

In data released by the Utah Dept. of Health on Wednesday, there were 1,387 confirmed cases of pertussis in 2012, more than double the number from 2011, when there were 618 cases and one death.

Now experts are looking at how long the pertussis vaccine will stay in your system.

"Vaccination is still one of the single most important things you can do," said Rebecca Ward, Utah Dept. of Health. "It could be two years, it could be four years but there are some studies right now looking at that how long that vaccine actually provides immunity."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a series of five DTAP - diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis - vaccinations for children at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months and then again at 4 to 6 years old. After that, children ages 11 or 12 are recommended to receive another pertussis vaccination.

Adults should talk to their doctors about additional shots, and, while the length of effectiveness is being studied, UDOH says that pertussis is best combated by immunizations.

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