TOMS RIVER - Health officials in Ocean County are warning residents of a local outbreak of pertussis, or whooping cough.

Health officials say 14 cases have been confirmed and another three are being investigated in the northern part of the county.

Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by Bordetella pertussis, according to a news release by the Ocean County health department.

Health officials say the best way to prevent pertussis or minimize its effects is to get vaccinated. The health department also stresses the importance of hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when sick.

Ocean County Health Department