Oklahoma whooping cough cases on the rise

Health officials in Oklahoma have announced that the state has seen 66 confirmed cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, this year.

Pertussis is a potentially fatal lung infection that is highly contagious and can be spread from sneezing and coughing. Over 2,000 cases have been reported in the neighboring state of Texas, though the highest number of infections this year is in California, with 6,700 reported cases and 10 infant deaths, The Money Times reports.

“The fact that we have bordering states that are seeing increases recently, that’s something we’re certainly aware of and are watching very closely,” Laurence Burnsed, the Oklahoma Health Department’s Communicable Disease Division director, said, according to The Money Times. “People need to be aware that pertussis is occurring throughout the US.”

Whooping cough is dangerous for all infected, though it can be deadly for young children and infants when elders, even those who are asymptomatic, unknowingly pass it on. This is especially the case for infants under six months of age because they are not fully vaccinated.

The health department recommends that everyone who comes into contact with babies should receive routine vaccinations.

Initial signs of the condition are low-grade fever, runny nose, mild cough and congestion. Within weeks, the coughing spells can become spasmodic and severe, which can progress to vomiting. During coughing fits, the person may become blue in the face from a lack of air.

Pertussis can lead to pneumonia, convulsions and brain damage in children, with one in 100 cases proving fatal in children.