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Published On: Thu, Sep 5th, 2013

Texas report nearly 2,000 whooping cough cases: ‘On track to reach the highest level in more than 50 years’

Texas health officials say the number of people sick with whooping cough, or pertussis, statewide is on track to reach the highest level in more than 50 years, according to a news release Tuesday.

Image/CDC James Gathany

Image/CDC James Gathany

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has reported nearly 2,000 pertussis cases so far this year, and the annual total likely will surpass the recent high of 3,358 cases in 2009. There have also been two pertussis-related deaths in Texas this year, both of infants too young to be vaccinated.

This is prompting health officials to urge people to make sure they’re vaccinated against the bacterial disease.

“This is extremely concerning. If cases continue to be diagnosed at the current rate, we will see the most Texas cases since the 1950s,” said Dr. Lisa Cornelius, DSHS infectious diseases medical officer. “Pertussis is highly infectious and can cause serious complications, especially in babies, so people should take it seriously.”

There have also been two pertussis-related deaths in Texas this year, both of infants too young to be vaccinated.

To better protect babies, DSHS recommends pregnant women get a dose of pertussis vaccine during every pregnancy, preferably between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy. This helps protect the baby before he or she can start the vaccination series at 2 months old and helps keep the mother from getting sick and infecting the baby.

Fathers, siblings, extended family members, medical providers and others who will be around newborns should also be vaccinated. Many babies get whooping cough from adults or older brothers or sisters who don’t even know they have the disease. While symptoms are usually milder in teens and adults, pertussis can be life threatening for babies because of the risk of apnea, an interruption in breathing.

Pertussis is a bacterial infection that often starts with cold-like symptoms and a mild cough. After a week or two, severe coughing can begin and last for several weeks. Coughing fits may be followed by vomiting or a “whooping” sound, the reason the disease is also called “whooping cough.” Pertussis spreads easily through the air when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes. People with pertussis are most contagious while they have cold-like symptoms and during the first two weeks after coughing starts.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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