SOUTH BEND – The U.S. is having its worst whooping cough outbreak in 50 years.
More than 18,000 cases have been reported this year.
Whooping cough is a respiratory infection that can close airways and be deadly – It's especially dangerous for children.
That's double the number of cases in 2011 and several of them are close to home. There are 118 cases in Indiana, 8 of those are in St. Joe County.
Across the country, 9 people have died from it this year – all of them infants. Those infants were either too young to be immunized or not fully immunized.
So where is the source of the problem? It could be you and me and we don't even know it.
Summer afternoons at the Van Tournout's are relaxing. Cole and his little sis, Chesney, horsing around. Craig and Katie, mom and dad, are catching up after a day of work.
"She was our miracle baby," Katie said, referring to her daughter, Callie.
Callie was born in December 2009, a month later she got sick.
"She had a cough, like a little kid would cough in front of their mom,” Katie said. “I was like...what is this?"
Scared and worried they visited the doctor a few times. They’ll never forget that last trip to the doctor.
"She was in my arms and stopped breathing," Katie said.
Callie was suffering from Pertussis, more commonly known as whooping cough.
She didn't make it - She was 37 days old.
Most recently, the Center for Disease Control said most whooping cough fatalities are infants that can't fight the disease. Callie was too young to have a vaccine.
Newborns are at high risk of getting it. That's because infants don't get the first dose of the vaccine until they're 2 months.
"I'm thinking, how did she get it? Where did it come from?” Katie said. "Someone like you or I that didn't have the vaccine, passed it on to her."
Dr. Glen Davis with the South Bend Clinic urges parents with newborns to get the shot before they take their child home from the hospital.
"If everyone gets this shot, you, your friends, the guy on the street, everybody, it’s one less risk for those kids out here to catch it," Katie said.
Later in 2010, the Van Tournouts were blessed with Chesney. This time around they required every guest to have their shot if they wanted to visit this little one in the hospital, saying they're not taking any risks.
"If it could happen to us it could happen to anyone," Katie said.
Some hospitals offer the vaccine to mothers after they give birth. Katie says she wasn't offered one the first time she gave birth with Callie. She said the protocol has changed since then.
In St. Joe County there are 8 reported cases this year, compared to 10 last year, but this year isn't over just yet.
Insurance covers the cost of the vaccine for most people. Many people don't know they have it and doctors say it’s high contagious.
The St. Joseph County Health Department recommends children 10 to 13 get the whooping cough booster. Also, anyone with close contact to an infant should get the vaccine. It lasts about 10 years.