A bottle of the pertussis vaccine against whooping cough and...

A bottle of the pertussis vaccine against whooping cough and a syringe. (Sept. 17, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

Health officials say Kansas and other parts of the United States are experiencing a cyclical peak in the number of cases of whooping cough.

Since the beginning of the year, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has recorded 56 confirmed cases of whooping cough. The respiratory illness is marked by its often severe and frequent coughing, especially among young children.

An epidemiologist from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta says the United States is in the midst of another peak outbreak of the illness. The most pronounced outbreaks are happening in Washington state.

Health officials say the best prevention is to make sure young children are immunized between the age of 2 months and 6 years, with boosters during adolescence.

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