DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Whooping cough, one of the most contagious diseases in the U.S., continues to surge, and Montgomery County is again sounding the alarm.

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is highly contagious and is one of the most commonly occurring vaccine-preventable diseases in the United States.

According to a press release from Dayton & Montgomery County, there have been 44 cases of pertussis in 2023, with 30 of those occurring in the last three months.

In all of 2022, there were only 13 cases.

As with most airborne diseases, pertussis is spread via coughing and sneezing. It then begins with cold-like symptoms before advancing to coughing fits that sometimes become violent.

The ages of pertussis sufferers range from 4 months all the way up to 70 years. While dangerous regardless of age, it’s particularly dangerous to young children.

Babies who have contracted pertussis often gag and gasp instead of cough. They sometimes suffer from apnea, the disruption of breathing.

“More than half of infants less than one year of age who get the disease must be hospitalized and in rare cases, pertussis can be deadly,” said Dr. Becky Thomas, medical director of Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County.

Research has shown vaccination to be the best guard against contracting pertussis. Vaccines are available for kids as part of the standard DTaP shot, while teens and adults can get boosters in the form of Tdap. (The letters in the names of the shots are in different order, but they both protect against tetanus, diptheria and pertussis.)

Find more information about protecting yourself against whooping cough on Montgomery County’s Public Health website.