DUPLIN COUNTY -

Duplin County is experiencing a whooping cough outbreak. Duplin County Health Director Ila Davis said there are currently 41 confirmed cases and 18 probable cases.

Davis said they already have more cases of whooping cough than they had in their last outbreak back in 2008.

She said whooping cough is not like the flu that comes every year. However, when someone does get it, she said it can be easily transmitted and spread to many people in the area.

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a bad respiratory infection with cold-like symptoms.

Pediatrician Elizabeth Griffin said whooping cough is very serious, especially in small infants and the elderly.

"They cough until they vomit. They loose their breath while coughing. They turn blue and may even briefly pass out," Griffin said.

Health officials said preventative vaccines are required for children entering kindergarten.

Dr. Griffin said just because you have received the vaccine doesn't mean you're 100 percent covered.  People can still get whooping cough if they come in close contact with someone who's contagious. However, Dr. Griffin said it's important to get the vaccine to prevent outbreaks.