Cases of whooping cough are on the rise in Ada County, and it's especially impacting teens right now.  Here's what you need to know to protect yourself.

There are usually a few cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, each year around Boise, but we're on a pace right now to have an elevated grand total.  So far this flu season we've had 14 cases of whooping cough in Ada County, which KTVB says is double the number of cases for this time last year.  Most of the cases have been in kids and young adults between the ages of 13 and 20.

Whooping cough is a highly contagious infection that settles in the lungs, and leads to a severe hacking cough and then a sucking in of breath that sounds like a big "whoooop."  It can start out like lots of other colds and viruses, with nasal congestion, fever, and cough, and instead of getting better, symptoms get worse and can lead to vomiting, fatigue, and that awful whoop.  After antibiotics, it can take two weeks to two months to feel normal again.

A vaccination is the best medicine.  That's usually given to infants, and the Mayo Clinic says there are booster shots for teens, adults, and pregnant women.  The booster shot is usually associated with the tetanus vaccine.

It just takes a droplet from a sneeze or cough to infect someone else, so obviously limiting exposure is key to staying healthy. If it gets into a school, whooping cough can lead to a lot of sick days for a lot of students, and work its way into grocery stores and offices too.  Yuck.

Don't let "the most wonderful time of the year" be a sick one. WebMD says wash hands and cover mouths and noses when coughing or sneezing to help prevent pertussis from spreading.  Tis the season for hand sanitizer.