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Whooping Cough Not Going Away in Central Texas

Image courtesy Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Bordetella pertussis bacteria, which is the etiologic pathogen for pertussis, also known as whooping cough.


A surge in cases of the whooping cough have already been reported in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, along with an epidemic sweeping California.  Today, the Houston Chronicle reports on an outbreak at a private school in Harris County.

Officials at Windwood Christian Academy on Spring Cypress Road last week sent letters to parents of preschoolers after seven children were confirmed to have the highly contagious bacterial infection, said a Harris County health department spokeswoman. The children are being treated.

KUT News reported over the summer how Central Texas had seen a troubling outbreak of the disease also known as pertussis, and we were curious if things had improved.

Turns out they haven't. Austin-Travis County Health and Human Services spokesperson Carole Barasch says the latest numbers show 822 confirmed and probable whooping cough cases reported to the Health Department. Compare that to 2009, when about 600 cases were reported.

"Disease patterns to continue to show an increase in pertussis cases in younger, high risk age groups. That age range would be from two weeks to four years," Barasch told KUT News.

So what are we supposed to do about it? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some useful tips, mainly, getting vaccinated.

The easiest thing for adults to do is to get Tdap instead of their next regular tetanus booster—that Td shot that they were supposed to get every 10 years. The dose of Tdap can be given earlier than the 10-year mark, so it is a good idea for adults to talk to a healthcare provider about what is best for their specific situation.

Here's what a whooping cough actually sounds like

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.