State Pilots Project To Fight Whooping Cough

New Mexico – The state Health Department and Santa Fe's Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center have launched a pilot project to help protect newborns who are not yet vaccinated against whooping cough.

Health officials say the project centers around the idea of cocooning, or surrounding the infant with a "cocoon" of people who are protected from the disease.

Dr. Maggi Gallaher of the department's Public Health Division says parents and others who will care for the newborn will be immunized with a vaccine booster shot.

Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a serious, highly contagious bacterial respiratory infection.

It's preventable with immunization, but infants aren't able to be immunized until two months of age and not fully immunized until 15 to 18 months.

Officials say whooping cough cases are on the rise in New Mexico.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.