BRUNSWICK, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- With new cases being diagnosed almost every day, state health officials are recommending that people protect themselves against whooping cough.
The Maine Center for Disease Control says there have been 300 confirmed cases of whooping cough in Maine since January. There were 70 cases of the disease reported at this point last year. The highest number of cases have been seen in Cumberland, Somerset, Penobscot and York counties.
The majority of the cases have occurred in school-aged children and teenagers. The upper respiratory illness is highly contagious. Doctors say young babies are susceptible because the cough can be so intense, they may not be able to catch their breath.
"It can take lives, especially of our young children. Our most vulnerable population are children under the age of one. And it's usually passed amongst teens and adults in large groups, camps, schools and daycares," said Dr. Sheila Pinette, the Director of the Maine CDC.
Doctors say anyone taking care of young children should get a whooping cough booster shot. Whooping cough can last six to 10 weeks. Antibiotic medication taken early in the illness can lessen the symptoms.