Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire released emergency funds to the state department of health earlier this month as state officials aim to curb a whooping cough epidemic that has persisted throughout the first half of 2012.

Gregoire issued $90,000 to the health department to support outreach efforts to educate the public about the problem and available resources to stem it, according to a state news release. She also diverted federal funding for immunizations to purchase an additional 27,000 whooping cough vaccines for adults who are unable to acquire them on their own.

Nearly 1,300 whooping cough cases have been reported in Washington through the first 18 weeks of 2012 -- up from 128 over the same period in 2011, according to state estimates. Infants have contracted the disease the most: 97 out of every 100,000. That figure would increase to 280 out of 100,000 if the current trend continues for the rest of the year, according to state projections.

Washington Secretary of Health Mary Selecky declared an epidemic on April 3. There have been no reported fatalities.

Public outreach efforts include making the vaccines available at various locations (including local health departments and most pharmacies), airing radio and television public service annoucnements and developing an online resource with educational materials for citizens.