A whooping cough outbreak may reach a 50-year high in Texas, notes a Fort Worth Star-Telegram report on two infants, too young to be vaccinated, who died from the highly contagious bacterial infection
known clinically as pertussis.
A baby must be at least two-months-old to be vaccinated.
The contagious cough, named for its “whooping” sound, is spread through coughs and sneezes.
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“Pertussis is highly infectious and can cause serious complications, especially in babies, so people should take it seriously,” said Lisa Cornelius, Texas Department of State Health Services infectious diseases medical officer.
Almost 2,000 Texans have contracted whooping cough this year with a large number concentrated in the Fort Worth-Arlington area.
“This is extremely concerning. If cases continue to be diagnosed at the current rate, we will see the most Texas cases since the 1950s,” Cornelius said.
The total number of whooping cough cases in Texas likely will exceed the recent high of 3,358 cases in 2009, state officials said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
many babies are infected by their parents, siblings, or other caregivers who might not even know they have the disease. Anyone who comes in contact with a baby should be vaccinated.
Pregnant women are recommended to receive a pertussis vaccine between 27 and 36 weeks of gestation to help protect their newborns.
Whooping cough starts like the common cold, with a runny nose or congestion, sneezing, and maybe a mild cough or fever. But severe coughing can begin after one or two weeks.
The vaccine for infants and children is DTaP, a combination vaccine that protects against three diseases: diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, the Star Telegram reported.
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In 2010, 27,550 cases of pertussis were reported nationwide, but many more go undiagnosed and unreported, according to the CDC. That was the most cases reported in the United States since 1959, when 40,000 were reported. In 2011, 18,719 cases were reported nationally.
Worldwide, there are an estimated 30 million to 50 million cases of pertussis and about 300,000 deaths per year, according to the CDC.
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