Largest outbreak of whooping cough since the 50s - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Largest outbreak of whooping cough since the 50s

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At one time, Pertussis, or Whooping Cough, was thought to be nearly eliminated in the United States, but it's back and is hitting Texas hard. The Texas Department of State Health Services released an alert Tuesday warning of the increase in Pertussis cases.

There have already been two deaths related to Pertussis in the state of Texas and thousands have been infected nationwide.

It's a sound parent's dread. The difference between your common cold and Pertussis is in the sound.

"It's a very distinctive sound. From then on it's always, you know, easily diagnosed with that sound," Russell Hopkins, with Net Health, said.

Symptoms include fever, rash, and that telling cough. According to Hopkins the reason for the resurgence of the cough is a lack of booster shots in grown-ups.

"What we're seeing is that the adults in the house are not current on their boosters," he said.

Once thought to be wiped out in the U.S. current numbers prove the illness is back with a vengeance. There were 3,358 cases in 2009 and are nearly 2,000 so far this year. Officials predict numbers could be the most in Texas since the 1950's.

"Not near in the numbers that, you know, pre 1950's and mass vaccinations started in that, but in numbers that are concerning and that cause quite a bit of suffering and economic hardship," Hopkins said.

It's highly contagious and several cases have already been reported in Smith County according to Hopkins. In Tyler, a warning went up outside of Net Health Tuesday, to remind East Texans to get vaccinated.

Children can still catch whooping cough even with a vaccine, but it is much less severe.

"When you take your child to have vaccine administered, check with your doctor and make sure you're up to date, also," Hopkins suggested.

Children and toddlers are most susceptible, but, Hopkins says, combating the disease lies in vaccinating adults, too.

According Hopkins a new vaccine should be given about every seven years.

It is covered by insurance, and he says, if you can't remember when you were last vaccinated, that means it's probably about time.

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