New cases of whooping cough have jumped more than 500 percent in our state in the last five years, health officials said Monday.
One in 100 babies under the age of 6 months who gets whooping cough will die from it, but anyone can catch and spread the disease.
"The first week or so of the disease will be like a common cold, just sneezing and coughing a little bit, and it's very transmittable at that stage," said Dr. Luis Castagnini of Blank Children's Hospital.
Sarah Boese is community health educator for the Polk County Health Department. She said Iowa is in the middle of an outbreak.
"Last year we had 33 cases in the entire year. This year we had 32 in August alone," said Boese.
The number of cases is expected to rise as children return to school. Ages 5 to 15 are at greatest risk of contracting whooping cough.
"In between episodes of cough, they are perfectly fine. They don't have any problems, no symptoms. Fever is not there most of the time, but when they start coughing, they cannot stop for that period of time. They will cough for 30 seconds or so, sometimes even longer, and will cough, cough, cough, cough, and that's not something other diseases will manifest," said Castagnini.
Doctors said the best line of defense is to get vaccinated. Anyone who has been vaccinated over the age of 10 should also consider a booster shot.