EUGENE, Ore. - Public health officials and Oregon health groups issued an alert this week urging every pregnant woman to get a whooping cough immunization.
According to March of Dimes, from 2011 to 2012, the number of pertussis cases tripled, jumping from 328 to 912 in Oregon.
This is the highest number of reported cases in the state in 50 years.
Southern Oregon Division Director Aimee Corey, says the non-profit group seeks to improve the health of mothers and babies.
"It's very scary for a newborn to come down with whooping cough, and so we just want to make sure before the baby is born that they have that immunization ahead of time."
Cindy Morgan, Communicable Disease Supervisor at Lane County Public Health, said pertussis is very difficult to identify.
"In adults it will start out as a mild cold, and then a cough that's persistent. With our infants this cough very quickly can become serious, where it's difficult for them to catch their breath, they don't eat well, and they become very ill quickly."
Morgan says, "By caccooning our infants, having pregnant women and the other people living in the household receiving their current T-dap vaccines, it will help reduce the number of incidents in those infants."
According to March of Dimes, about 16 percent of pertussis cases are infants in the first year of life.
Corey says infants cannot receive the pertussis immunizations until they are at least two months old.
"Between 27 and 36 weeks gestation is the best timing for them because the baby cannot receive the vaccination until two months after they are born."
She says pertussis immunizations are recommended during each pregnancy, not only once.
With children heading back to school, Lane County Public Health officials are urging pregnant mothers and all families to make sure their immunizations are up to date.
(YOU CAN ALSO MENTION CURRENT PERTUSSIS NUMBERS: ABOUT 300, A LITTLE DOWN FROM LAST YEAR, BUT LAST YEAR WAS RECORD HIGH.)