Doctor urges vaccination in pertussis 'clusters'

By Rachel McNeill - Anchor

HOUSTON - State health officials are reporting more than 800 cases of whooping cough, more than double this time last year.

Though the situation in Texas is not as dire as in other states, there is cause for concern, especially among some areas of our community where vaccination rates are lower.

Pertussis or whooping cough is often identified with that telltale, uncontrollable cough.

This year, five newborn babies in Texas have died from the disease.

Dr. Melanie Mouzoon, Immunization Specialist with Kelsey-Seybold Clinics told Local 2, "Very often it's a family member who just has cold symptoms at the time. The infant is born and they transmit the whooping cough to the infant when no one really knows it's whooping cough that's causing their runny nose."

The only prevention against pertussis is immunization.

While Texas has an overall high rate of compliance, Dr. Mouzoon said she has noticed pockets in our community where vaccination rates are lower, putting kids at an exponentially higher risk of contracting the disease.

She explained, "In the Houston area, I know that there are a lot of vaccine refusers in the Woodlands area for example and sort of in the Memorial/River Oaks area, there are pockets and communities where immunization is less accepted."

The CDC recommends vaccination. DTap for infants and kids, Tdap for everyone else, with extra care to do what's called "cocooning" -- surround babies too young for vaccination with caretakers who've all had their boosters.

Dr. Mouzoon added, "Particularly for the pregnant woman in the third trimester, dad, all of the teenagers in the family, grandparents, everyone should get it."

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