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      Whooping cough cases spike in Alamance County

      BURLINGTON, N.C. (AP) - An outbreak of whooping cough in Alamance County has prompted North Carolina health officials to make the vaccines against the disease available for free to anyone age 7 or older.

      The Times-News of Burlington reports that Alamance County has reported 122 cases of whopping cough since last December. The entire state reported 126 cases of the disease, which is also known as pertussis, in all of 2011.

      The vaccine for the highly contagious respiratory disease will be free to anyone, regardless of whether they have health insurance. Health officials say they want to stop the spread of the disease, which is highly contagious and can cause a violent cough that lasts for months .

      (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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