Whooping Cough Outbreak Could Be Worst In Texas In 50 Years

    September 4, 2013
    Amanda Crum

Texas residents are being warned of an outbreak of whooping cough that is growing in number every day. The preventable illness has spread to nearly 2,000 people in the state this year, a staggering number that may well overtake the state’s 2009 record of 3,358.

The illness–also known as pertussis–is highly contagious and spreads through coughing and sneezing; it is also extremely dangerous for babies, because it can cause serious respiratory issues. Two infant deaths have already been reported in Texas as a result of the illness, and although both children were too young to have been vaccinated against pertussis, officials say that vaccine numbers in the state only stand at 94%, well below the national average. With the right precautions, they say, adults can keep from spreading it to infants and young children who can’t fight off the infection. But because so many people have chosen not to get the vaccine, the illness isn’t going away.

Pertussis usually begins with cold-like symptoms and evolves into a cough that won’t go away; patients often complain of sore ribs after a few days. Anyone suspected of carrying the pertussis bacteria is urged to stay away from babies and young children and to undergo a round of antibiotics for at least a week before returning to work or school.