Whooping cough last year reached its highest level in Utah and the rest of the nation in nearly six decades.
The Utah Department of Health reported a total of 1,366 cases in 2012. Of those, 119 cases were in Weber and Morgan counties, 134 in Davis County and 59 in Bear River County.
The majority of cases were seen in those younger than 1 year old, followed by those ages 5 to 14.
Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 41,880 cases in 2012.
Whooping cough was up in 48 states last year, hitting Colorado, Minnesota, Washington state, Wisconsin and Vermont especially hard.
Despite the higher numbers, deaths did not increase, which could be because of faster diagnosis and treatment. According to the CDC, 18 people died, including 15 infants younger than 1. Utah reported one death and 40 hospitalizations.
"We know whooping cough has been on the uptick for the past few years and haven't seen anything to tell us it is waning," said Lori Buttars, Weber-Morgan Health Department public relations director.
One of the reasons for the increase in the highly contagious bacterial disease could be because the vaccine may not last as long as once thought, health officials said. This could continue to cause a higher-than-normal number of cases in the future.
"I think the numbers are going to trend up," Dr. Tom Clark, master of public health for the CDC, said in a news release.
According to UDOH, whooping cough, also known as pertussis, can strike anyone, but those at highest risk for complications are children.
Symptoms usually appear within seven to 12 days after exposure and may start out as a common cold, with runny nose, sneezing, low-grade fever and mild cough. The cough gradually worsens and can turn violent, causing a whooping sound and even vomiting. Complications, such as seizures and pneumonia, can occur and often require hospitalization.
Vaccination is the best way to prevent the disease, Buttars said, and is recommended beginning at 2 months of age. Children should have four to five doses of the vaccine by the time they enter kindergarten.
The vaccine should also be given again at age 11 or 12, according to the CDC, and adults should receive a booster if they haven't already had one.
Pregnant women should also get one dose, preferably later in pregnancy. By doing so, maternal pertussis antibodies transfer to the newborn, likely providing protection from the disease early in life.
"We hope people will continue to keep up with their vaccinations," Buttars said.
"We appreciate the parents and staff who took advantage of our school clinics. If people were not able to participate, we hope they will contact their physician or come see us."
Information from The Associated Press is included in this article.