The latest health risk for parents to be aware of sounds like it comes from a previous century, but in fact it's on the rise today: whooping cough.
Over the past few years, the U.S. has suffered a surge in whooping cough cases, with no signs of slowing down. This year, 18,000 cases of the disease have already been reported, effectively doubling the reported figures from last year, according to The Wall Street Journal. At this rate, cases of whooping cough are expected to surpass the highest rates reached back in 1959.
Here's what parents should know:
What is whooping cough?
According to the Center for Disease Control, whooping cough, otherwise known as Pertussis is a contagious disease caused by a bacterial infection. The disease is airborne and passed on through coughing or sneezing while in close proximity to others.
Symptoms should you look for:
Although early symptoms, such as runny nose and sneezing may be confused for a common cold, the telltale sign of the disease is the severe and almost violent bouts of coughing.
"That whoop sound is an attempt to get air back into the lungs after a coughing fit," pediatrician Seth Gordon MD tells Yahoo! Shine.
The vaccine that prevents whooping cough was replaced in the 1990s and there are concerns over whether the new version is effective in the long term. Doctors recommend that children receive their first shot at 2 months and the final one between the ages of 4 to 6. A booster shot is recommended at the ages of 11 or 12 .
How to prevent it:
Children commonly catch the disease from infected family members, so it's important that parents and older family members get vaccinated along with their kids.
"For the past five years or so, we've been vaccinating parents and grandparents," explains Dr. Gordon.
What should you do if you're worried your child has whooping cough?
Obviously, a parent should bring their child to the doctor as soon as possible. A doctor can give your child antibiotics to fight the infection.
How can you tell the difference between a bad, lingering cough and whooping cough?
You can't, necessarily. If you're concerned, you should ask your doctor. One worried Shine mom posed the test case: "My daughter has been coughing for about three weeks, and she threw up during coughing fits for two nights in the beginning. I took her to the pediatrician, who said not to worry, the cough would go away on it's own. Is this an undiagnosed case of whooping cough?
"It could be," Dr. Gordon explains, "whooping cough is usually so severe that is causes children to vomit. It's very repetitive and looks like one of the worst coughs you've ever seen."
Of course, it's never a bad idea to seek a second opinion.