The Centers for Disease Control reported more than 19,000 cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, in the U.S. this year, making it a 50-year record outbreak. The bacterial illness can be deadly - it claimed the lives of nine babies in the U.S. last year alone.
Including Nevada, 37 states have seen an increase in whooping cough cases in 2012. In Southern Nevada the cases have nearly doubled over last year.
The Southern Nevada Health District is encouraging doctors to spread the word. They have confirmed 30 whooping cough cases so far this year, and are investigating more.
The respiratory illness is very contagious and spreads through the air by coughing or sneezing.
"It starts out very similar to the common cold, but after a week or so it can progress to a severe illness with severe coughing fits," SNHD Senior Scientist Dr. Nancy Williams said.
Those fits are followed by a loud "whoop" sound as the lungs fill with air.
Infants don't always show those signs and can't start their round of vaccinations until they're 2 months old. Then they start a series of five doses. Experts said that's why they need protection from those around them.
"It's very important for parents and other members of the family (like siblings) who are around infants to be vaccinated," Williams said.
Kids going into kindergarten and seventh grade in the Clark County School District have to get pertussis vaccinations.
There are several vaccine clinics heading into the next school year. Click here for a link to the health district's clinic schedule.
For more information on pertussis or whooping cough, click here.
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