Whooping cough appears to be on the rise in Illinois, and the most likely targets are children five years of age and younger, say Department of Health officials.
Nine babies have already died in California this year of the disease, which could soon break a 55-year-old record for infections from contracting the cough, which is also known as pertussis. Illinois officials are concerned.
Characterized by mild to intense inflammation of the respiratory tract, whooping cough is highly contagious and transmitted through the air. And while whooping cough symptoms can be mistaken for a cold, at least at first, it then progresses to very severe coughing with that distinctive whooping sound.
In Illinois, the department of public health reports that more than three quarters of this year's cases have been in school aged children, or children under five.
So what can parents do? Vaccinations are the key to preventing infection.
Since immunity wears off over time, adults and teens may need a booster -- especially since babies get their first pertussis shot at two months. And children under the age of one are considered a high risk group.
If you have whooping cough, stay at home. Isolate yourself for at least five days, and make sure you get the right antibiotics.