Whooping cough - or pertussis - is on the rise, more than 21,000 cases in the US last year. That worries Dr. Beth Woolery. "Very dangerous - it's spread by aerosolized droplets. So you just need to be near somebody that's coughing in order to contract it."
Whooping cough can be diagnose - especially in the first stage of symptoms. Added Dr. Woolery, "It looks just like a cold. And that's when you're most infectious and least likely to come to medical attention and least likely to be recognized as whooping cough."
It will eventually develop into a severe cough that can cause an adult to pass out, vomit or even break a rib. And it's even more dangerous for very young patients. "For young infants, they can get apnea where they stop breathing with the cough or the classic whoop," said Woolery, adding the best prevention is to get the shot. And since babies aren't fully immunized, it's important that parents and caregivers are also up to date with the vaccine. "Make sure that you've had your pertussis vaccine. You don't want to be the one who spreads that to a young infant that's not fully immunized."