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Whooping cough facts

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.

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Physicians recommend early diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics.

Vaccines

can help prevent the disease.

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