Whooping Cough Cases Continue to Rise

New cases of whooping cough have continued to be reported in different states in the U.S. on both coasts from California to Maine.

In San Diego, California, 298 cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, have been reported in 2014 alone, according to local media outlet KPBS. The rate is about six times more than what was reported last year, says the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency. In the last week of April alone, 18 cases were reported.

Whooping cough symptoms include a cough and a runny nose that lasts about one or two weeks. After that, there are weeks of rapid coughing fits that can end with a whooping sound. It can also be accompanied by a mild fever.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), whooping cough is highly contagious and can be prevented by getting a vaccine. It most commonly affects infants and young children, and can be deadly to children under the age of one. The CDC’s prevention page has more information about vaccination and recommends that children are kept away from those who are infected.

In many areas, officials are working to balance proper prevention without causing panic among parents.

In Kennebunk, Maine, where six new cases of whooping cough were reported last week, local media reported that school officials have taken precautions to keep parents informed and prepared.

According to the ABC affiliate in Kennebunk, the school superintendent emailed parents about the local whooping cough situation.

“We don’t want to raise concern about issues that aren’t significant,” said the email from Superintendent Andrew Dolloff.. “We don’t want to create hysteria, but it is important to share when there are situations where there is a contagious disease that we want folks to be aware of.”

Parents are being advised to vaccinate themselves and their children against the illness. Antibiotics can also help to prevent the spread of whooping cough and suppress the symptoms.