adults urged to get vaccinated, so they don't spread the disease to kids, who can die from it
Texas is one of several states where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are warning about an outbreak of whooping cough, and it is taking the unusual step of recommending that adults get vaccinated against this childhood disease, 1200 WOAI news reports.
Dr. David Gude, Chief Operating Officer of the Texas MedClinic chain, says the reason for this outbreak is simply because adults generally are not vaccinated against the highly contagious bacterial disease, which means they act as carriers to pass it along to children.
"For the past forty years now, we've given the last dose of pertussis vaccine to a person at age four or five, and we have never been given that vaccination again," he said.
The CDC says the numbers of cases that have been reported to date are extremely high. In just six months, the U.S. has reported more than 16,000 validated cases, compared with 15,000 for the entire year last year.
Texas is one of several states seeing an outbreak of whooping cough, which can be fatal in children.
Dr. Gude says one of the problems is when adults get the disease, the symptoms aren't nearly as serious as in children. Adults frequently dismiss it as upper respiratory trouble, allergies, or a cold, and, since they don't have the same serious symptoms that children have, they don't get treated for it.
"We are not recognizing it as adults when it actually happens, and then they serve as an infection source for kids," he said.
Dr. Gude says adults then transmit whooping cough to children without even knowing they are infected.
He says one vaccination will protect adults over a lifetime, and previous guidelines recommending that whooping cough vaccine not be given to people over the age of 64 have been eliminated.
The problem with the disease in children is the violent coughing, which can lead to vomiting, hemorrhages, and even broken bones. The disease gets its name because children cough so much and so violently that they gulp for air, making the distinctive 'whooping' sound.