SACRAMENTO, Calif. -

California health officials say the number of whooping cough cases is on the rise in the state.

The California Department of Public Health reported Friday it received reports of 1,711 cases of whooping cough since January. That's more than triple the number of cases reported during the same period last year.

Whooping cough begins with cold-like symptoms and can progress to severe coughing fits that leave people gasping for breath. The illness tends to peak every three to five years.

In 2010, a whooping cough epidemic killed 10 infants in the state.

Health officials say youngsters should be vaccinated as soon as possible.