- Associated Press - Thursday, January 12, 2017

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico health officials say the number of cases of whooping cough in infants has increased.

The Health Department is investigating four infant cases reported in December. The cases are from Eddy, Curry, Rio Arriba and San Juan counties.

The agency says this is the largest cluster of whooping cough cases investigated by the state since August 2013.

Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher says the best way for parents to protect against the illness is to get their children vaccinated. She also encourages women to get vaccinated during pregnancy.

Symptoms of infection may include coughing fits. In infants, another possible symptom is apnea, where there is a pause in the child’s breathing pattern.

About half of babies younger than one year of age who get the disease are hospitalized.

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