Independence health officials on Wednesday reported a spike in the cases of pertussis, or whooping cough.
Twenty-four cases have been reported this year. That includes 15 this month, more than seven times the number reported during June 2011, officials said.
Pertussis is a contagious disease often spread by people who cough or sneeze while in close contact with others. Many infants who get pertussis are infected by older siblings, parents or caregivers who may not even know they have the disease.
The best way to prevent pertussis is to be vaccinated, health officials said.
The recommended pertussis vaccine for infants and children is called DTaP, which protects most children for five years. Since vaccine protections fades with time, pre-teens, teenagers and adults are urged to get a booster shot that contains protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap).
While there could be several reasons for the increase in pertussis cases, one may be the reluctance of some parents to vaccinate their children, for religious or other reasons, said Trinette Bening, nurse manager with the Jackson County Health Department.
Vaccinations are available through the county health department. For information, call 816-404-6416.