A patient is vaccinated against whooping cough (pertussis), at a pharmacy (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)
Whooping cough, or pertussis
, infects babies, children and adults and looks a lot like the common cold at first — runny nose, sneezing and a mild cough or fever, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
After one to two weeks, severe coughing episodes can begin and continue for weeks and even months. It is not for nothing this illness has been called the "100-day cough."
Coughing fits may be violent and can cause sharp inhalations with a distinctive "whoop" sound. Infants may turn blue during coughing periods. The severe coughing may interfere with a person's ability to eat, drink and sleep.
Infants are among the most vulnerable to dying from the disease. More than half of babies younger than a year with whooping cough are hospitalized.
Physicians recommend early diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics. Vaccines can help prevent the disease.
— Trine Tsouderos