The Texas Department of State Health Services has issued a statewide Texas Health Alert, as cases of pertussis, better known as whooping cough, continues to spike across the state, 1200 WOAI news reports.


  Department spokesman Chris Van Deusen says everybody, not just children, should make sure they are vaccinated against pertussis.


  "You think if it as being one of those classic childhood illnesses, but adults certainly get it as well," he said.


  And he says it is particularly important for any adult who has direct dealings with infants and small children be vaccinated right away.


  "Older siblings, extended family, doctors and nurses too," he said.


  While the disease is particularly serious among small children, many babies get whooping cough from adults or older brothers and sisters who frequently don't even know that they have the disease.


  Van Deusen says there have been two deaths so far this year in Texas from whooping cough, both were infants younger than two months, which is the earliest the vaccine can be given.


  If current trends continue, where will be more cases of whooping cough in Texas than in any year since the late 1950s.


  He says there is no indication why this is such a severe year for whooping cough.  He says the disease has nothing to do with the weather.  It may be that the type of vaccine generally administered for pertussis changed in the middle of the last decade, because the old vaccine had too many side effects.


  "The immunity may wane a little sooner than the old type of the vaccine," he said.