WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- Health officials in Sedgwick County are reporting an unusually high number of cases of whooping cough.
The county health department said Monday it has received 27 reported cases of the illness so far this month. That's more than in any month in the past five years.
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It's highly contagious and causes violent, rapid coughing.
Health officials say babies are especially at risk because they're too young to be vaccinated. The department is urging families to be careful about passing babies around during holiday gatherings.
Officials say good hand-washing habits can reduce the chances of transmitting whooping cough.