The state of Texas is in the midst of a whooping cough outbreak with cases of the highly contagious infections surging toward a 50-year high. Several years ago California experienced a similar rise in cases of the disease.
Whooping cough is a bacterial infection causes by pertussis. The respiratory symptoms can last six weeks and result in disability or death, particularly in infants under six months of age.
Good vaccination practices can contain the illness.
A study recently published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics concluded, “undervaccination with DTaP vaccine increases the risk of pertussis among children 3 to 36 months of age.”
Jefferson pediatrician Gary A. Emmett, MD, explains, “pertussis is now primarily a disease of young adults and unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children exposed to young adults. It is especially dangerous to children under 3 months of age.”
Dr. Emmet adds, “we encourage young mothers and fathers to be revaccinated against pertussis immediately after the child is born to protect the new babies from getting this very dangerous disease.”
So far this year, Texas has accounted for nearly 2,000 of the 14,978 pertussis cases reported nationwide, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware have reported a combined total of 629 whooping cough cases.