AUSTIN, Texas, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- Texas is on track to have its largest number of whooping cough cases in a half century, health officials say.
As of Aug. 27, 1,935 cases, with two deaths, had been reported in the state, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Tuesday.
By the end of the year, the number could exceed the 3,358 reported in 2009, the Texas Department of State Health Services said.
"This is extremely concerning. If cases continue to be diagnosed at the current rate, we will see the most Texas cases since the 1950s," Dr. Lisa Cornelius, the department's infectious diseases medical officer, said. "Pertussis is highly infectious and can cause serious complications, especially in babies, so people should take it seriously."
Whooping cough, or pertussis, was almost wiped out in the United States by widespread vaccination. The numbers have been rising because of increasing numbers of parents who believe vaccinations are harmful and because some children are given types of vaccination that wear off and do not receive booster shots.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 27,550 cases were reported in 2010, the most since 1959 when there were about 40,000 cases. The disease can resemble a bad cold and many cases go unreported.