Eight cases of pertussis have been confirmed in Travis County.
Since late June 2018, eight cases of pertussis, commonly called whooping cough, have been confirmed in Travis County. The infected persons ranged in age from infants through adolescents. Only one of the eight cases had received all the recommended vaccine doses for pertussis. Notably, six of the eight cases had not been vaccinated at all for pertussis.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “whooping cough" is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It is caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. Pertussis is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe. After a coughing fit, someone with pertussis often needs to take deep breaths, which result in a ‘whooping’ sound. Pertussis can affect people of all ages, but it can be very serious, even deadly, for babies less than one year old. About half of children younger than one year of age who get pertussis require hospitalization. The best way to protect against pertussis is by getting vaccinated.”
How is pertussis spread?
Pertussis is a very contagious disease only found in humans. People with pertussis usually spread the disease to another person by coughing or sneezing or when spending a lot of time near one another where breathing space is shared. Many babies who get pertussis are infected by older siblings, parents, or caregivers who might not even know they have the disease.
Infected people are most contagious up to two weeks after the cough begins. Antibiotics may shorten the time that someone is contagious.
Early symptoms can last one to two weeks and usually include:
Mild, occasional cough
Apnea (a pause in breathing) in babies
After one to two weeks and as the disease progresses, the traditional symptoms of pertussis may appear and include:
Paroxysms (fits) of many, rapid coughs followed by high-pitched “whoop” sound
Vomiting during or after coughing fits
Exhaustion after coughing fits
The best way to prevent pertussis is to get vaccinated. For maximum protection:
Babies and children need the DTaP vaccine beginning at two months of age
Preteens should receive the Tdap vaccine at 11-12 years of age
Adults should receive one dose of Tdap vaccine
Pregnant women should receive the Tdap vaccine during the last trimester of each pregnancy
Austin Public Health encourages parents check with their child’s healthcare provide to verify their immunization status. Vaccines for uninsured individuals are available through Austin Public Health’s Immunizations clinics; call 512-972-5520 for an appointment.
For additional information contact the Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Unit, Austin Public Health at 512-972-5555.
Communications and Public Information Office
301 W. 2nd Street, Austin, TX 78701