With a current epidemic of whooping cough – clinically known as pertussis – being declared in one western state and cases rising in at least one neighboring state, Wyoming’s state health officer is encouraging vaccination to help ensure vulnerable residents are protected from the disease. The state of Washington recently declared a pertussis epidemic, with more than 1,100 cases reported so far this year. Montana is now experiencing local outbreaks and a higher number of pertussis cases than usual with more than 90 reported so far this year. Ten pertussis cases have been reported to the Wyoming Department of Health so far this year, compared with 13 total in 2011 and 14 in 2010. The health department adds that actual case numbers may be higher. Whooping cough is most dangerous for babies one year old or less who typically have to be hospitalized. It can also be fatal for them.