We all know it's the flu season, but something else you should be aware of is whooping cough, and here are seven critical things you need to know.

Pertussis, or "whooping cough" is one of many illnesses that must be reported to the Colorado Department of Public Health. The illness is potentially fatal so it's a good idea to be informed about the causes and risks it presents, and Mesa County Public Health has some great information. It's good to know what you are dealing with.

[CDC]

  • 1

    AFFECTING THE WORLD

    Around the world there are typically 24 million cases of pertussis each year leading to nearly 200,000 deaths. In the United States, the number of cases generally sits between 40,000 and 50,000 each year.

  • 2

    LOOKS LIKE A COLD OR FLU

    Early symptoms may seem like a cold or the flu including a runny nose, low-grade fever, and a mild occasional cough, so it can be tough to diagnose.Symptoms gradually become more severe with time and may include coughing fits, a high pitched "whoop" sound, and exhaustion.

  • 3

    IT'S PREVENTABLE

    Pertussis is a vaccine-preventable, but highly contagious respiratory disease. It's important to know how not to get it, as well as how not to spread it if you have it.

  • 4

    ESPECIALLY DANGEROUS FOR BABIES

    Pertussis can affect people of all ages, but it is most serious and potentially fatal in babies less than a year old. About half of babies less than a year old who contract it need hospital treatment.You should keep your baby away from anyone who is coughing or has cold symptoms.

  • 5

    VACCINATIONS ARE AVAILABLE

    Vaccinations are available for babies, kids and adults.If you get the vaccine,  you can still contract pertussis,  but, it generally isn't as severe and doesn't last as long

  • 6

    HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS

    Pertussis is highly contagious and is spread mostly by coughing and sneezing. It is generally treated with antibiotics, which help control symptoms as well helps prevent the spread of the illness. Anytime you are coughing and sneezing you need to cover it up.

  • 7

    SYMPTOMS CAN BE SLOW TO DEVELOP

    Symptoms of pertussis generally manifest within 5-10 days of exposure, but may not develop for up to three weeks. Many babies don't cough at all. In some cases, the illness just makes them stop breathing and they turn blue.