A disease called the 'whooping cough' is reportedly sweeping throughout the UK at an unprecedented rate.

Cases of the bug, also known as pertussis have increased by 250 per cent within a year.

Between July and November, there were 716 reported cases, which is three times the number during the same period in 2022.

Dr Gayatri Amirthalingam from the UKHSA told The Sun that this rise was "expected".

They explained that social distancing and lockdown measures during the COVID-19 pandemic had significantly impacted the spread of infections, including whooping cough.

"As expected, we are now seeing cases of whooping cough increase again, so it's vital pregnant women ensure they get vaccinated to protect their baby."

Prof Helen Bedford, an expert in child public health at University College London, added: "Whooping cough in young babies can be very serious and vaccinating their mothers in pregnancy is the only way of ensuring they are protected in the first few months."

MP Jess Philips recently came down with the bug: "I'm in a house of sickness, coughing that sounds like whooping cough and listlessness as far as the eye can see. Happy winter everyone."

Whooping cough is a bacterial infection that affects the lungs and breathing tubes. It spreads easily and can sometimes cause serious problems. Vaccination against it is crucial for babies and children.

What are the five symptoms of whooping cough?

  • Nasal congestion
  • A runny nose
  • Red, watery eyes
  • A cough
  • A fever

The NHS explains that after about a week, you or your child might experience coughing fits that last for a few minutes, are worse at night and may make a "whoop" sound a gasp for breath between coughs.

Young babies and some adults may not "whoop". After a coughing bout, the patient may struggle to breathe and could turn blue or grey (especially young infants), and they may bring up thick mucus, which can cause vomiting.

If your baby is under 6 months old and shows symptoms of whooping cough, or if you or your child have a severe cough that is getting worse, or if you've been in contact with someone with whooping cough and you're pregnant, you should seek an urgent GP appointment or get help from NHS 111.

You should also call 111 if you or your child has been in contact with someone with whooping cough and has a weakened immune system.