AUSTIN (KXAN) — A child died from whooping cough in Travis County, according to the County Health and Human Services Department – the first case of death from the disease since 2003.
Health officials say the child who died was not old enough to receive a vaccination.
Whooping cough is highly contagious and extremely dangerous for babies. According to health officials, the disease usually starts with cold-like symptoms and a mild cough or fever but, after one to two weeks severe coughing may start. Unlike the common cold, the coughing fits can continue for weeks. Children usually contract the disease from older family members.
Health officials are urging caregivers, pregnant women, and family members to get immunized. Doctors say children ages 2 months and up should get the vaccine.
“The estimated effectiveness of the vaccine is about 80-90%,” said Dr. Phillip Huang, with The Travis County Health and Human Services Department.
Historically, whooping cough usually occurs in waves in Texas with peaks every three to five years. Outbreaks were last seen in 2005 and 2008 and the cycle appeared to be starting over again in 2012. There are 41 confirmed and probable cases of whooping cough in Austin/Travis County thus far in 2014. In 2013 there were 307 cases.
The best way to protect babies is immunization for them, and the people around them. Pregnant women should also get vaccinated in their third semester.
For more information on whooping cough visit the CDC website here.