JACKSONVILLE — Some East Texas health officials are taking note as pertussis continues on the rise in Texas. As of August 27, Texas has reported 1,935 cases to the CDC. If the trend continues, Texas may report the highest number of pertussis cases it has had in over 50 years, officials say. According to a news release, the Cherokee County Public Health Department is monitoring the situation. Under State law, health care providers, hospitals, laboratories, schools, childcare facilities and others are required to report patients who are suspected of having pertussis. Officials say the Cherokee County Public Health Department will complete an epidemiologic investigation on all suspected pertussis cases that are reported and work to ensure that control measures are implemented for those exposed to pertussis. One case of pertussis has been confirmed in Cherokee County.
Pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial illness usually spread by coughing or sneezing. It 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, which is why the disease is sometimes called “whooping cough.” The symptoms are usually milder in teens and adults but can be life threatening for young children because of the risk of apnea, a pause in breathing.
Health officials say anyone with an unexplained cough or who has had close contact with a person with pertussis should contact their health care provider. Early diagnosis and treatment may reduce the severity of symptoms and shorten the contagious period, according to officials. Parents are urged to check their children’s shot records to be sure they are completely vaccinated against pertussis and should keep infants, especially those less than 6 months old, away from people with a cough.
According to health officials, vaccination is the best way to prevent pertussis and is given to children through the DTaP vaccine recommended at 2, 4, 6 and 15 to 18 months of age and again at 4 to 6 years of age. Children ages 11 and up should also get a dose of the Tdap vaccine, officials say. In Texas, these vaccines are required to attend school and daycare. Adults should talk to their medical provider about receiving a dose of the Tdap vaccine, according to officials.
To better protect babies, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Cherokee County Public Health Department recommend pregnant women get a pertussis vaccine during every pregnancy, preferably between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy. Officials say this helps protect the baby before he or she can be vaccinated at two months old and will help keep the mother from getting sick and infecting the baby. Family members, medical providers and others who will be around infants should also get vaccinated, according to health officials. For more information on pertussis, contact the Cherokee County Public Health Department at 903-586-6191.