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Texas Whooping Cough Cases Fall Slightly

Tarrant County still leads the state in the number of whooping cough cases this year: 562 to date. But Tarrant Public Health director Lou Brewer says there is good news: not as many children and adults are getting sick. 

“We have pretty much finished looking at the cases and reports for September, and there’s a marked decrease in the number of cases, particularly in the Hispanic population,” Brewer told county commissioners during an update on public health issues.  “So, we’re very happy to see that.”

Health officials can’t say definitively why Tarrant County has seen so many cases this year.  Russ Jones, county epidemiologist suggested earlier that the outbreak was driven by children 7 to 9 years old who fall into a vaccine protection gap before the required booster shot at age 12.

Texas health officials say 2013 is on pace to set a new state record for whooping cough: nearly 2900 cases so far, and three deaths.  The highest number of cases have been in infants younger than one.

The Texas Department of State Health Services says fewer cases were reported in the past two weeks, but it’s too early to call it a significant downward trend.

Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.