KELLER — With four-month-old baby Xavier buckled up in the back seat, Angela and Mike Rivera are about to attend church where the Tarrant County Public Health reports a confirmed case of whopping cough.
"We've been notified," said Mike Rivera. "It happened a couple of weeks ago, so we're fine!"
Rivera said Fellowship of the Parks Church in Keller used Facebook, text messages and e-mails to alert the congregation about a 5th grader who may have been exposed to the highly contagious disease attended two church services on April 13 and April 20.
Angela Rivera said she immediately thought of her newborn son.
"He's had a little cold, so I read through all the information the church provided us, did a little research online about pertussis, and I feel very comfortable about us being protected, us coming here", she said.
Tarrant County Public Health says Pertussis — which is more commonly known as "whooping cough" — is on the rise. As of March 14, Tarrant County has reported 64 pertussis cases; seven of the cases are infants and three of them were hospitalized.
David Shockley said he double-checked his daughter's shot records to ensure they were current.
"We think vaccinations are smart," he said. "There's things out there you have to be protected against, and it only makes sense to have your children vaccinated."
Tarrant County is urging parents to be on the lookout for cold-like symptoms, runny noses, mild fever, or coughs that slowly get worse.
David Shockley believes Fellowship of the Parks leadership did the right thing by quickly making the health threat public.
"They were very responsible," he said.
Health experts say pertussis can be especially dangerous for infants who haven't yet reached their first birthday. It’s spread by droplets in the air that form when a person talks, sneezes, or coughs.
Tarrant County Public Health recommends that anyone exposed to pertussis be evaluated by a health care provider before returning to work, school, daycare, or church gatherings.