Whooping cough cases rise in South West

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Confirmed cases of whooping cough have risen almost 13-fold in the South West in less than a year, experts say.

The region - which includes Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Bristol, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire - had 65 cases in 2011.

In 2012, until the end of August, there were 843 confirmed cases in the region, the Health Protection Agency said.

In October, pregnant women are being offered whooping cough vaccinations to protect their newborn babies.

It aims to boost the short-term immunity passed on by pregnant women to protect their babies - who normally cannot be vaccinated until they are two months old.

The disease can cause severe coughing fits and is highly contagious.

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