AUSTIN, Texas — Some parents across Central Texas are wondering whether they should be worried after two reported cases of pertussis in the past two weeks.

Nicknamed whooping cough, the highly contagious respiratory illness is making headlines again.

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About two weeks ago, a lawmaker said a child on the floor of one of the chambers at the Texas State Capitol was diagnosed with the disease.

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And on Monday, Cedar Park Middle School sent parents a letter, warning them a student had caught it.

Dr. Sangeeta Jain, a pediatrician at Austin Regional Clinic, told KVUE it is sometimes difficult to diagnose whooping cough because the illness takes a few weeks to develop.

"Oftentimes, when it first comes up, people just feel like they have a cold or a runny nose or a cough," Dr. Jain said.

Pertussis, which causes coughing fits that can last up to 10 weeks, spreads easily and is found more often in day cares and schools.

But the illness isn't all that common.

According to a spokesperson with Austin Public Health, the agency has seen about 100 cases in the past couple of years.

Williamson County and Cities Health District observed only 18 cases in 2018, a spokesperson said.

But because whooping cough can be deadly to infants, Dr. Jain said it's something parents should keep an eye on.

"[Infants] are probably our highest risk population. For the most of the rest of us, a very irritating, prolonged cough that can cause vomiting and sleep deprivation," she said.

The best way to treat it, Dr. Jain said, is by preventing it through vaccination.

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"It is important to vaccinate because even one death, that could be your child, that could be the one that could suffer from this," she said.

Doctors treat whooping cough with antibiotics, which help prevent the spread spread of the bacteria.

However, there are calls from doctors for a newer vaccine because, even if you are vaccinated, you can still carry the disease and spread it.

Call your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about whooping cough.

Students at Dell Medical School will provide vaccinations for adults on Saturdays throughout April and early May at the Gus Garcia Recreation Center, 1201 E. Rundberg Lane. Events will take place this April 13, 20 and 27, and May 4.

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