Two Texoma infants contract whooping cough; State health officials issue health alert

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GRAYSON COUNTY, TX -- Texas health officials are worried that an outbreak of whooping cough could be the worst the state has seen in 50 years. The disease has now made its way to at least one Texoma county.

Grayson County health officials have confirmed that two children under the age of 6 months old have contracted pertussis -- commonly known as whooping cough.

Now, they're asking everyone to be on alert, and make sure all your vaccinations are up to date.

Tuesday Texas' State Department of Health issued a health alert advising doctors and residents that the number of cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, is on the rise.

There have been nearly 2,000 cases reported state-wide already this year and two infants have died.

"It is serious, especially for those young children," Amanda Ortez said.

Grayson County Health Department spokeswoman Amanda Ortez says people of all ages can contract whooping cough, a highly contagious disease. She urges parents to pay attention to young children and babies because it can be more severe and even deadly.

"Symptoms can start out very mild originally. It may not even noticeable to the parent. And then after one to two weeks the coughing becomes severe. And that severeness can cause apnea. They cough so hard that they struggle for breath," Ortez said.

The bacteria is inhaled after those who are infected cough or sneeze into the air.

"A lot of individuals can become infected just because of typical coughing and sneezing for this time of the year," Ortez said.

Ortez says infants need to get their DTaP vaccines. Parents and adults, especially those who work around children, should get their TDaP vaccination.

The director of Growing Smart Learning Center in Sherman says all children are required to be current on all of their vaccinations.

"We've never had a case of whooping cough to my memory, and I've been for twenty plus years," Bonny Hicks said.

Bonny Hicks says when there is a public health risk they take it seriously.

"With kids in large groups like this and adults and all the coming and going throughout the day. I'll start letting the parents know because you know, it is something to watch for," Hicks said.

Texas had a recent high of over 3,300 cases of whooping cough in 2009. Health officials say we're likely to surpass that number this year.

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