Health Officials: Pertussis Cases Increase in Wichita County - Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Health Officials: Pertussis Cases Increase in Wichita County

The Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health District is on high alert after receiving notification of 13 cases of Pertussis in children around the community since January of this year. It's a sharp increase from the one case reported in 2014.

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It is caused by the bacterium Bordetella Pertussis.

"I think it's just in the community," said Deborah Booher, Epidemiology Charge Nurse at the Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health District. "Like I said, it's endemic in any community and it just kind of re-surges every three to four years."

Pertussis is most common and severe in infants. However, it can strike at any age.  It is usually mild in older children and adults.

"The thing we want to stress to the public is we need to be sure to immunize everybody," said Booher.

Immunizations are not only needed for young infants or children, but also family members. Health officials said it’s the best way to stop the spread of the illness, and keep from catching it.

The age of those children impacted by the disease in Wichita County ranged from 3 months to 14-years-old. Six of those kids were under the age of one year.

All seven children, older than one year, were all immunized and up to date on their required vaccines, according to Booher. Health officials said they are trying to find a connection or reason why those that had the immunization still caught the illness.

“We could not find any … connections with any one child giving it to another child, so on and so forth,” said Booher.

They said it could be spreading for a number of reasons; the strain going around could actually be different than the strain that those kids were immunized for. Officials also said the immunization could have been weaker than what was needed to fight off the illness.

But the exact cause can be later determined through examination by the Centers for Diseases Control, according to Booher.

 However, because the illness is so contagious health officials are working closely with school officials as those children get ready to head back to class.

“At each of our campuses we have an RN or LVN,” said Debi Mills, Healthcare Coordinator For WFISD. “Anytime a student is ill they see the school nurse, they do an assessment and then they notify the parents accordingly.”

Mills said they will keep an eye out for symptoms of Pertussis, but it’s more important for parents to take precautions.

“It’s very important to have your child immunized,” said Mills. “That is what protects other children and it protects us all if everyone is immunized.”

The symptoms can begin with a runny nose, mild fever, sneezing and a cough that slowly gets worse. After one or two weeks the coughing may occur in strong coughing fits with a characteristic whoop, according to health officials.

Vaccinations can be given at your healthcare provider’s office or at the Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health District’s Immunization Clinic. If someone in your family exhibits the above symptoms, especially an infant, please keep your child home and contact your medical provider.

Contact the Health District’s Immunization Clinic at (940)761-6841 for vaccination questions and hours of operation.  

For more information or questions about Pertussis contact the Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health District at 940-761-7892 or go to their website. You can also visit the CDC website for more information.

Brittany Costello, Newschannel 6

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