Alameda County health officials reported a higher number of whooping cough cases in the first months of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017.
From January through May this year, there were 180 cases of whooping cough, or officially known as pertussis, in Alameda County, officials announced Thursday. In 2017, there were only 40 cases.
The numbers are "significantly higher than the same time period in past epidemic years 2014 and 2010," according to the county.
Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It's known for uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Whooping cough can cause serious illness for adults and it can be life-threatening for babies and children.
The infection is preventable by vaccination and Alameda health officials encouraged residents, especially pregnant women who are at the highest risk for exposing infants, to get vaccinated at one of the county's several immunization clinics.
Early symptons of pertussis are runny nose, low or no fever and mild cough. After 1-2 weeks, there may be vomitting, breathing problems and extreme fatique, according to county health officials.
After cough fits, someone with pertussis often needs to take deep breaths, which result in a "whooping" sound.
The coughing can last for up to 10 weeks or more, according to Alameda County Public Helath Department.
The infection is generally treated with antibiotics, which are used to control symptoms and to prevent infected people from spreading the disease, according to the CDC.