Whooping Cough Cases Continue to Rise
EL PASO COUNTY — The City of El Paso Department of Public Health is continuing to investigate a large number of pertussis or “whooping cough” cases in the borderland. As we end the month of November, the total number of confirmed cases stands at 55. This is compared to an average of five cases per year over the last five years. The Texas Department of State Health Services has also noted an increase in pertussis cases throughout the state with a total of six deaths in children reported this year. Additionally, as of November 1, 2012 there were 1,549 confirmed and probable cases of pertussis in Texas. This is a 61 percent increase over the total number of cases in 2011.
Officials in El Paso are reminding the public that the greatest protection against pertussis is vaccination, and that both children and adults can get the disease. “It is important to consider that during the cold fall and summer months more people will likely spend more time indoors and in close quarters. This presents the opportunity for not only the spread of the cold and flu virus, but other diseases such as pertussis,” said Fernando Gonzalez, Lead Epidemiologist.
The Department of Public Health’s Immunization Program is offering a limited number of pertussis vaccines to the general public for $59.00 at the Tigua Health Center located at 7862 San Jose. Those who are considered uninsured or underinsured can obtain the vaccine at a cost of $10.00 for children (up to 18 years of age) and $25.00 for adults. Those interested can call (915) 771-5822 to see if they qualify or to set up an appointment.
The Department is also offering two new presentations provided by the “Speakers Bureau”. Local community groups and agencies can request information regarding “Pertussis -Transmission & Prevention” as well as “Communicable Disease Prevention for Seniors” by visiting:
• In 2010, 27,550 cases of pertussis (whooping cough) were reported in the U.S., but many more go undiagnosed and unreported. This is the most number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1959 when 40,000 cases were reported. In 2011, 18,719 cases were reported.
• Coughing fits due to pertussis infection can last for up to 10 weeks or more; sometimes known as the "100 day cough."
• Pertussis can cause serious illness in infants, children and adults and can even be life-threatening, especially in infants.
• The most effective way to prevent pertussis is through vaccination with DTaP for infants and children and with Tdap for preteens, teens and adults — protection from the childhood vaccine fades over time.
• Vaccinated children and adults can become infected with and transmit pertussis; however, disease is less likely to be severe.
• Worldwide, there are an estimated 30-50 million cases of pertussis and about 300,000 deaths per year.
• Since the 1980s, there has been an increase in the number of reported cases of pertussis in the U.S. In 2010, an increase in reported cases among 7-10 year olds was seen.
• Pertussis is also known as "whooping cough" because of the "whooping" sound that is made when gasping for air after a fit of coughing.
• More than half of infants less than 1 year of age who get pertussis are hospitalized.
• Vaccination of preteens, teens and adults – including pregnant women – with Tdap is especially important for families with new infants.
• Pertussis is generally treated with antibiotics, which are used to control the symptoms and to prevent infected people from spreading the disease.