After setting a record in 2013, officials with the Tarrant County Health Department are concerned the number of recorded pertussis cases could again set a record this year.
Whooping cough, known to physicians as pertussis, has seen a resurgence in recent years.
As of June 16 there have been 174 reported cases of whooping cough in Tarrant County, roughly the same number of cases recorded by this time last year.
Health officials believe that the number of cases could get higher once current possible cases are vetted.
Tarrant County is not the only region with a high number of whooping cough cases. The highly infectious bacterial disease, which can be spread by coughing, has reached epidemic levels in California, according to the California Health Department
A record 700 cases were reported in 2013 in Tarrant County — many of them were reported in infants.
Heath officials advise that early, short-term protection is critical.
The Tarrant County Health Department compiled a list of recommendations to protect infants against pertussis.
- A baby will not get his first whooping cough shot until he is 2-months-old.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Tarrant County Public Health Department recommend pregnant women receive a whooping cough booster shot between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy. This allows the mother’s body to make antibodies that will be passed onto the baby before birth 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.
- Relatives and household members should get pertussis boosters, called a Tdap, before the baby is born, health officials advised.
- Babies should be kept away from people who are coughing. Pertussis only lives in people and a baby can get the disease only from another person. If you have a friend or relative who is ill, especially coughing, keep them away from the baby.
- People, who will be in contact with a baby and are ill, should see their doctor and stay away from infants, according to the Tarrant County Health Department.
- Lastly, when a baby is 2-months-old, he or she should get their first pertussis shot. Then again at 4 months and 6 months.