UPDATE 11/13/13 @ 5:30 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department is investigating several cases of pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough.
Health officials say at least four people have tested positive for the disease, including two children.
Health officials say one child is in the Kanawha County School system, and the other attended the U.S. Martial Arts Tournament in St. Albans.
Doctors say the disease poses the biggest danger to infants and elderly people.
"The outcomes are often really bad, sometimes fatal," Dr. Rahul Gupta said. "That's what we're trying to avoid because it is a preventable disease."
The disease starts out like the common cold but progresses after one to two weeks. That's when signs like coughing fits, vomiting and exhaustion after coughing fits become apparent.
Health officials say coughing that lasts 10 weeks or more is also a symptom.
Dr. Gupta says getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and your family, especially with the start of the holiday season.
"When you go holiday shopping, you're able to be confident that you're protected," he said. "And when you go to meet the young ones in your family, you're not exposing them."
Marc Harman stopped by the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department to get vaccinated to protect his infant grandchildren.
"I can hold my grandson now," he said. "The little ones can't protect themselves."
Health officials say children between the ages of two and six should be vaccinated. Adults should get a booster shot every 10 years along with their tetanus shot.
The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department is offering the vaccine daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
According to a news release, the cases include a child who just attended the U.S. Martial Arts Tournament in St. Albans as well as a child in Kanawha County schools.
Pertussis is a very contagious respiratory disease. It's most commonly spread from person-to-person by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others.
Anyone can get the disease, but it is especially dangerous in unvaccinated infants and people with weakened immune systems and the elderly.
Health officials say pertussis in its early stages appears to be nothing more than a cold, but it is often not suspected or diagnosed until the more severe symptoms appear.
Symptoms of pertussis include, coughing fits, vomiting, exhaustion after coughing fits and a cough lasting for up to 10 weeks or more. People are most contagious up to about two weeks after the cough begins.
If you suspect you or a family member has this disease, you're urged to call your doctor. If you think you have been exposed to the bacteria, the health department recommends you call your doctor or the Kanawha-Charleston Health Departmnet at 304-348-1088.
You can find more information about pertussis, by clicking on the link to the right of your screen.