Detecting The Difference: Whooping Cough & Common Cold

Newschannel 6 has been following the rise of pertussis infections in Wichita County.  What we've learned so far is that six cases have been reported this year, last year there were none. Health officials say symptoms can often be similar to the common cold. We asked how you can detect the difference.

No parent wants to see their child suffer through an ongoing cough, but this year many have. In the State of Texas there have been 1,099 pertussis cases this year, that surpassed the 961 cases in all of last year. The increase has many parents alarmed, wondering if the symptoms their child has could be more severe than the common cold.

"Usually with the common cold you're going to have, they're going to peak within a few days," said Leslie Gresham, Epidemiology Charge Nurse, Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health District.

Gresham says symptoms of the cold within a few days it will peak and then go away, but with pertussis it will linger.

"It used to be known as the 100 day cough, so it can last quite a while," she said.

Symptoms include severe coughing, vomiting and even periods of apnea.

"My recommendation as a parent is any time they're concerned they need to follow up with a provider."

The primary series of vaccinations begins at 2 months and continues until the child is 18 months old.

Of the four infants that were infected with pertussis in Wichita County one was two months old; the other four months; and two others were six months old. The two month old did not receive the vaccine yet and the others had not completed their series; therefore making them more susceptible to pertussis.

"It's more common with children under the age of one because they don't have their full series of shots," said Gresham.

That's why state health officials recommend pregnant women get a pertussis vaccine and others who will be around infants to prevent adding another victim of whooping cough.

There are several reasons and theories for the alarming increase of whooping cough. One of those theories is the vaccine becomes weaker around 10 years of age, just a few years before a booster dose of Tdap is given before entering 7th grade.

The Health District encourages everyone to be vaccinated according to the following schedule:

  • The primary series is given as a DTaP at 2, 4, 6 and 12-18 months of age.
  • A booster dose of DTaP should be given prior to school entry at 4-6 years of age.
  • A booster dose of Tdap should be given prior to entering 7th grade.
  • A Tdap is recommended for all teens and adults that have not previously received a dose of Tdap.

If you have any questions regarding Pertussis or how to obtain the vaccine, please contact the Health District at (940) 761-6841.

Crystal Hall Newschannel 6.