Tarrant County Public Health Warns of Whooping Cough Season

Whooping cough cases spike in the summer time.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Pertussis, commonly referred to as Whooping Cough, is a highly contagious disease. Health experts warn that peak season is right around the corner.

    Despite school about to end and the warm summer months set to kick-in, there is a concern in Tarrant County about people coughing this time of year.

    Specifically, health officials are worried about whooping cough, or pertussis, which tends to peak in the summer months and which set a record for cases in Tarrant County last year.

    The number of people with the highly contagious disease in 2014 is slightly down compared to the same time last year, but not by much. That has public health officials urging folks with young children, or expecting a baby, to make sure they're vaccinated.

    Those who don't get protected, especially the very young, could see the hospital, like 47 infants did last year.

    "It was a nightmare, looking back at it," said Michelle Frederickson.

    Frederickson and her 1-year-old daughter Bailey know the pains of whooping cough better than most as they spent 11 days in Cook Children's Hospital in September.

    "To see your baby turn blue, the worst thing you could ever imagine is your baby turning blue," Frederickson said.

    In the hospital is where NBC 5 first met them, where Bailey was still coughing but improving. Now more than nine months later Bailey is home and doing well.

    "Definitely happy and healthy," her mother said.

    In Tarrant County in 2013, there were a record 700 cases of whooping cough. Infants younger than a year old represented 148 of those cases; 32 percent, or 47 children, had to be hospitalized. In July alone last year, there were more than 130 cases.

    "For whatever reason it seems that at the end of May, all the way through July, August we see a peak," said Russell Jones, Tarrant County Public Health's chief epidemiologist.

    Jones said while the numbers this year are slightly down, the year-to-year comparison so far shows a very similar pattern of a summertime spike in cases.

    "We're only down by about eight cases compared to last year, that's really nothing, so we seem to be tracking the same," Jones said.

    That track has Jones and other health officials urging parents to make sure they and their children are vaccinated.

    "That's the primary prevention," Jones said.

    Frederickson, who's family was vaccinated but Bailey still got the disease, she says that's the best thing you can do.

    "The more you can do to prevent your little people from getting it, the less likely they are to get it," she aid.

    Whooping cough usually starts with cold like symptoms and maybe a mild cough or fever.  After one or two weeks severe coughing can begin.

    It can cause violent and rapid coughing, over and over, until the air is gone from the lungs and you are forced to inhale with a loud "whooping" sound.