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Borderland residents advised whooping cough on the rise

By: Stephanie Guadian
EL PASO, Texas and LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- Health officials are seeing a sharp spike in the number of whooping cough cases in New Mexico, Texas and across the country.

El Paso mom Erica Martinez wasn't aware of the whooping cough outbreak. I'm personally not vaccinated against it. My children, I don't think they are vaccinated against it, either, said Martinez.

The disease is also known as pertussis and has one very distinct symptom a persistent cough. That is what gives the acute respiratory disease its nickname. It affects all age groups and is highly contagious.

Dr. Vijayakumar Praveen is a pediatrician at Mountain View Regional Medical Center. He says New Mexico has already seen some 300 cases of whooping cough so far in 2013. Texas is reporting nearly 2,000. Since the 1950s this is the first time we are seeing such big number of pertussis in the United States, said Dr. Praveen.

Those most at risk are infants. Health officials are urging all adults -- especially those who come into contact with infants to get the Tdap vaccine.

There is no need to make an appointment for the shots. Theyre available at local pharmacies. Kipp Hillin is a pharmacist at Target on El Pasos west side. He says adults may have whooping cough and not even know it. But those who do are carriers. It spreads through the air when people cough or sneeze. And its a disease that can be fatal in infants. Texas has reported the deaths of two babies. The way we protect our children is by basically protecting the adults around the children, said Hillin.

El Paso County has reported 40 cases so far in 2013.

Martinez plans to heed the warning -- she's already making plans to have her family vaccinated.



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