ROANOKE (CBS 11 NEWS) – After a record epidemic last year, Pertussis—or Whooping Cough, as it is popularly known—is making its presence felt in North Texas again.

School officials with the Northwest ISD say there is one confirmed case at Tidwell Middle School this year.  The school is not on what’s called “high alert,” but it is getting the word out so the school community is informed.

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“If they’re able to contain it, I think that would put my mind at ease a little more,” said Michelle Tortorici, whose son attended Tidwell until this year when he graduated to Byron Nelson High School.  But she says all kids in the school system intermingle.  “So whatever child is sick at Tidwell, he could very well have a sibling at Byron who could end up spreading it there as well.”

Jennifer Jamison shares a similar concern. Though her granddaughter is too young to attend school, Jamison says pertussis is contagious.   “We watch the little girl across the street have slumber parties all the time.  So when you get a group of kids and if one of them, what’s not to say that the rest aren’t going to go and spread it throughout the community?”

While whooping cough is usually mild in adults, children are vulnerable, especially those less than a year old who are too young for a vaccine.  Texans suffered the worst outbreak last year since 1959, with nearly 4,000 cases and five deaths.  This year so far, there have been 1,633 cases and two deaths.   Parents need to know early symptoms may mimic a cold, but if a cough develops take your child to a doctor.  Babies are especially at risk, so keep them away from anyone with a cough and make sure pertussis vaccinations up to date.

If they’re concerned about it and letting the community know, then it’s something I should be concerned about,” Jamison concluded.

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The Tarrant County Health Department reminds us pertussis is something that occurs year-round.  Be aware, it suggests, but no need to be afraid.

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