The Texas Department of State Health Services released, on Oct. 22, the latest data on the whooping cough epidemic in that state. With 70 days left in 2013, the state has seen 2,874 cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, and three deaths. The overall rate of hospitalization is 12.7 percent. Patients under age 20 account for 86 percent of the illnesses.
Analysis of the data suggests that Texas may set a modern record for pertussis cases this year. The previous record of 3,358 cases was set in 2009. The state is averaging 17 new cases per day over the last six weeks and may end the year at just over 4,000 total cases of whooping cough.
The pertussis epidemic is especially serious for infants, children under the age of 12 months. Texas reports 695 cases of the illness in this age group in 2013. The Centers for Disease Control provide detailed information about the risks to infants from contracting whooping cough.
In infants younger than 1 year of age who get pertussis, about half are hospitalized. The younger the infant, the more likely treatment in the hospital will be needed. Of those infants who are hospitalized with pertussis about:
- 1 in 4 (23%) get pneumonia (lung infection)
- 1 or 2 in 100 (1.6%) will have convulsions (violent, uncontrolled shaking)
- Two thirds (67%) will have apnea (slowed or stopped breathing)
- 1 in 300 (0.4%) will have encephalopathy (disease of the brain)
- 1 or 2 in 100 (1.6%) will die