A simple cough could be deadly and it's a scare that's hitting home.
The number of whooping cough cases in Harris County and the city is increasing according to Harris County Public Health.
It's a highly contagious disease that can cause severe illness in infants, children and adults. More than 2,000 cases have been reported in Texas this year, and two infants have died.
The health department is urging adults to protect themselves and their children.
"We are seeing a great increase in the number of Pertussis cases, our jurisdiction, outside of Houston. We have already had 81 cases this year and that's more than we had last year at this time," said Dr. Carolyn Fruthaler with the health department. "The symptoms in the beginning are very much like an ordinary cold. It's a cough and runny nose. People are contagious at that point."
The health department says infants are the most susceptible to the disease and can easily stop breathing.
"Pertussis is a very contagious and the best way to protect infants and small children is for everyone around them to be immunized," said Dr. Fruthaler.
Should you and your children get the vaccine? Many health specialists say the number of cases is increasing because people are ignoring doctor's orders and not vaccinating their children.
IT'S REQUIRED BY STATE FOR CHILDREN ENTERING KINDERGARTEN IN PUBLIC SCHOOL TO HAVE THEIR TDAP SHOT WHICH IS A COMBINATION VACCINE AGAINST TETANUS, DIPHTHERIA AND PERTUSSIS. BUT IF YOU'RE UNDER THE AGE OF 5 OR AN ADULT, THERE'S NO REQUIREMENT.
"It's recommended that all adults have a TDAP vaccination. If you're not generally in contact with small children, then you can wait until you are due for a tetanus booster which is every 10 years. If you are going to be around small children and particularly infants, then it's a good idea to go ahead and get a TDAP whenever you can," said Dr. Fruthaler.
Since the vaccine is now recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, insurance providers should cover the charge. If you don't have insurance, then the health department says they can work with patients to see how to go about getting the vaccination to protect yourself and your children.