September 6, 2012
Citing six deaths and more than
1,000 confirmed cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, in Texas so far this
year, the Texas Department of State Health Services is issuing a health
advisory urging immunization against the potentially lethal illness. The six deaths
so far this year are the most for a single year since 2005. There were 961 total
Texas cases of pertussis last year, down from a peak of 3,358 in 2009.
of the deaths were among infants under two months old, the age at which the
first pertussis vaccination is recommended. This underscores how important it
is for parents and others around newborns to make sure they have received the
recommended doses of vaccine. The sixth death was of an unvaccinated older
child with underlying medical conditions.
is a very 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. 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
protect babies, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and DSHS
recommend pregnant women get a pertussis vaccine any time after 20 weeks
gestation. Others who will be around infants should also get a shot: fathers,
older siblings, other caregivers and health care professionals like doctors and
nurses who care for babies.
who suspect pertussis should report the case to their local health department
as soon as possible to help stop the disease from spreading. Patients who have
pertussis should not go back to work or school until they’ve had five days of
complete health advisory, including recommendations for vaccination for all
ages, is available at www.dshs.state.tx.us/news/releases/PertussisAdvisory-090612.pdf.
(News Media Contact: Chris Van Deusen, DSHS Assistant Press Officer, 512-776-7753)
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