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    Unusual pertussis season in Tarrant County

    Contact: Al Roy, Public Information Officer, 817-321-5313, cell: 817-422-3828

    anroy@tarrantcounty.com

     

    Unusual pertussis season in Tarrant County

     

    (Tarrant County, Texas) . Recent months have seen an unusual rise in pertussis (whooping cough) cases in Tarrant County, with cases and hospitalizations reaching record numbers. "As of October 1, 104 infants in Tarrant County have had pertussis and 37 of those have had to be hospitalized," said Dr. Sandra Parker, Medical Director for Tarrant County Public Health (TCPH) and Health Authority for Tarrant County. "We are also seeing high numbers of infant pertussis cases among the Hispanic population," she said.

    Local physicians and other health-care providers are being advised by TCPH through presentations, articles and health advisories to consider pertussis when evaluating patients with compatible symptoms. TCPH community health workers are also spreading the word about pertussis to local businesses, including child care facilities and retail shops, servicing new and young families. The Immunization Collaboration of Tarrant County has partnered with TCPH to continue to inform obstetricians and family physicians about the pertussis situation and promote vaccination. And TCPH WIC clinics, which serve women, infants and children, have increased awareness and education efforts about the importance of pertussis vaccination.

    Symptoms of whooping cough begin with common cold symptoms, which in the very young are sometimes followed by coughing fits and difficulty breathing. Sometimes, after coughing, infants and small children will gasp for air, making the "whoop" sound. Older children and adults may just have a bothersome cough that doesn't go away.

    Early, short-term protection for infants is critical, Parker said. "Since the baby won't get his or her first whooping cough shot until he or she is 2 months old, I recommend pregnant women receive a pertussis booster shot between the 27th and 36th weeks of pregnancy, in every pregnancy. This allows the mother's body to make antibodies that will be passed on to the baby and provide some short-term protection early in life. Plus, it prevents the mother from catching the disease and passing it on to the baby." She also said that mothers who did not get the whooping cough shot in pregnancy should talk with their health care provider about getting the shot as soon as possible after delivery.

    Parker also said that relatives and household members who will be in close contact with the baby and have not had a pertussis (TdaP) booster, should also get one, preferably before the baby is born. In addition to the vaccinations, Parker also advised parents keep babies away from anyone who is sick and those who are sick should stay away from any baby until they feel better.

    For more information, visit the Pertussis Whooping Cough link.