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PHOENIX -- Arizona is seeing a sharp decrease in the number of cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, this year, despite increases to neighboring states.

In California, the state's Department of Public Health announced Friday the state is experiencing an epidemic when it comes to the number of cases of Pertussis. As of June 10, the health department said there have been more than 3,400 cases of the respiratory infection in California. More than 800 were reported in the past two weeks.

"Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory disease (and) it's caused by bacteria," said Shane Brady, an infectious disease epidemiologist with the Arizona Department of Health Services. "This bacteria is spread through respiratory droplets such as coughing, sneezing (and) talking."

Brady said unlike California, Arizona has seen a significant decrease in the number of pertussis cases this year, likely because of the cyclical nature of the disease.

"Right now we have 305 cases from January through May, whereas last year January through May we had 800 cases, so we are seeing a decrease," Brady said.

According to data released by the Centers for Disease Control in April, Arizona is nearly surrounded by states that are experiencing an uptick in cases. Beside California, Nevada and Utah are also seeing a rise in cases.

Brady said it's important for people to get themselves and their children vaccinated. Infants are the most susceptible.

"It can affect anyone, but most severe complications usually occur in infants younger than six months of age, which can lead to hospitalization or death," Brady said.

She added adults should get the booster shot.

Brady also advised people use proper etiquette, such as covering their mouths when they sneeze or cough and regularly washing their hands to help avoid spreading the illness.

Mark Remillard,

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