State health officials have issued a Texas whooping cough outbreak warning,
hoping to stem what could be the worst wave of pertussis in 50 years.
Whooping cough has been blamed for two deaths so far this year, said health officials, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
. They are urging residents to update their vaccinations and that of their children.
"This is extremely concerning," Dr. Lisa Cornelius, the state's infectious diseases medical officer, said in a statement. "If cases continue to be diagnosed at the current rate, we will see the most Texas cases since the 1950s. Pertussis is highly infectious and can cause serious complications, especially in babies, so people should take it seriously."
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Some 1,935 people had been diagnosed with whooping cough in Texas as of Aug. 27, nearly a quarter of those in Fort Worth's Tarrant County, state health officials told the Star-Telegram.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 27,550 cases were reported in 2010, the most since 1959 when there were about 40,000 cases, according to UPI.com
. The CDC said the challenge for doctors and patients is diagnoses since the disease can resemble a bad cold and can go unreported for a long period.
The whooping cough, known as the "100-day cough" in China, can last up to five months and infants under two months of age are at the highest risk, Dr. Melanie Mouzoon, a pediatrician at the Kelsey-Seybold Clinic told the Houston Chronicle
Both of the state's whooping cough deaths have been infants less than two months old, according to the Star-Telegram.
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A state health department news release
said infants can come down with pneumonia, suffer convulsions, slow to stopped breathing and brain disease. It said that one in every 100 infants getting the disease will die.
In teens and adults, the whooping cough can cause weight loss, loss of bladder control, fainting and rib fractures from severe coughing, state health officials said on its website.
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