More than 3,000 cases of whooping cough have been diagnosed in Washington state so far in 2012, according to data compiled by the Department of Health.

That number is far in excess of the 219 cases diagnosed in the same period last year.

A total of 131 new cases were documented in Washington between July 8-14, bringing the 2012 total to 3,014.

The hardest hit group is children between the ages of 10 and 13.

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a serious health threat to very young infants. It rarely poses a threat to adults and children past the toddler stage, though it can present symptoms akin to a very bad cold or flu.

Researchers have known for some time that even with widespread use of childhood vaccines, outbreaks of whooping cough were increasing.

Pertussis is preventable with a vaccine. State health officials says it's important for teens and adults to get the shot.

On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and the Washington Department of Health plan to hold a 9 a.m. PT briefing on the epidemic in the state and provide additional information on prevention resources.

For an in-depth report on Washington's whooping cough empidemic, see KING 5's special half-hour report that aired in May.

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