Whooping Cough on the Rise

COLLEGE STATION, September 16, 2013 –Whooping Cough on the Rise College Station - Whooping cough, which is also known as pertussis, has been on the rise in Texas. The importance of keeping our families healthy and safe is a priority of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Extension specialists prepare information to educate the public on public health techniques to prevent the spread of these deadly diseases.

Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by a bacteria. It produces uncontrollable, violent coughing fits that produce a “whoop-like” noise and make it difficult to breathe.

Some symptoms of whooping cough include: • a runny or stuffy nose, • cough, • sneeze, • a mild fever (99 to 101°F), and • diarrhea.

Coughing episodes don’t usually start until 10 to 12 days after these symptoms. These symptoms may be manageable, but complications may arise. These complications include choking, pneumonia, brain inflammation, pregnancy complications, and death.

Whooping cough is spread from person to person. An infected person can be contagious for up to 3 weeks from the first signs of illness through the beginning of the coughing spells. Whooping cough is spread from an infected person’s coughs and sneezes, which infect others by direct contact or through contaminated surfaces.

The best way to prevent the spread of whooping cough is to be vaccinated against it. The pediatric Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (DTaP) vaccine is part of the recommended childhood immunizations and protects children from pertussis infections. For optimal protection against whooping cough, a child needs five doses of DTaP - one dose at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 to 18 months, and lastly between 4 and 6 years of age. Adults are advised to get a booster vaccine (TDaP) every 10 years to help prevent the spread of whooping cough to young children. Women who are pregnant should ideally receive a TDaP booster between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy, but they can receive it at any time during pregnancy.

During a whooping cough epidemic, unimmunized individuals should not attend school or attend public gatherings due to their increased likelihood of acquiring this severe illness.

If you suspect you or your child has whooping cough, contact your doctor immediately. Dial 2-1-1 for information regarding vaccine locations in your area. Visit texashelp.tamu.edu for more information regarding whooping cough in Texas.

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