Patients at Tacoma hospital being warned of whooping cough exposure

Officials are investigating cases of whooping cough at St. Joseph's Medical Center in Tacoma.

The exposure window is between April 2 and 23. Two staff were diagnosed as of Wednesday afternoon and notification letters were sent to 246 patients who may be affected.

"Pertussis (whooping cough) is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe," the Center for Disease Control's website reads. "After cough fits, someone with pertussis often needs to take deep breaths, which result in a 'whooping' sound. Pertussis can affect people of all ages, but can be very serious, even deadly, for babies less than a year old."

The best way to protect against pertussis is by getting vaccinated, CDC staff says.

Health officials also say they're seeing an increase in whooping cough at Western Washington University. So far there have been six confirmed cases on campus. The university is now working to keep it from spreading.

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