LOS ANGELES (AP) — State health officials say more than 200 new cases of whooping cough have been tallied in the last week, bringing California’s total to about 3,300 confirmed and suspected cases this year.

California Department of Public Health spokesman Ralph Montano says the highly contagious illness has caused the deaths of eight babies this year. All the victims were too young to receive the full series of vaccines given in the first years.

The cases reported Wednesday represent a sevenfold increase over the number reported in the same period last year.

A typical case of whooping cough may appear similar to a common cold, and starts with a cough and runny nose for one to two weeks. It is followed by weeks or months of rapid coughing fits that sometimes end with a whooping sound.

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