AUSTIN (September 11, 2013)--Dozens more whooping cough cases have been confirmed in Texas since state officials issued a health alert on Sept. 3 and the state is on track for the biggest outbreak since the 1950s.
The Texas Department of State Health Services reported 2,160 pertussis cases this year as of Tuesday and spokesman Chris Van Deusen said Wednesday the cases have been relatively widespread with no big area of concentration.
Officials say the state's annual total for cases linked to the bacterial infection will likely top the recent high of 3,358 cases in 2009.
Two infants with whooping cough have died so far this year in Texas.
Six people died statewide in 2012.
“Pertussis is highly infectious and can cause serious complications, especially in babies, so people should take it seriously,” said Dr. Lisa Cornelius, DSHS infectious diseases medical officer.
DSHS is strongly encouraging people to make sure they and their children are up to date on vaccinations.
Infants are most at risk, but people of all ages can get pertussis, which often starts with cold-like symptoms and a mild cough.
After a week or two, severe coughing can begin and may last for several weeks.