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Video: Health Officials Weigh In On Pertussis

Jan 09, 2020 06:51AM ● By Editor

Watch the WDIO-TV Report here

By Emily Ness of WDIO-TV News - January 9, 2020

For the first time in seven years, a Minnesota infant has died from pertussis—more commonly known as whooping cough.

The Minnesota Department of Health said the baby was diagnosed with the disease in August and hospitalized for three months before passing away in November. The Department of Health did not disclose where in Minnesota the baby was from.

Health officials across the state said that they were saddened by the death.

“It's something that's been around for a long time and we have it here in Minnesota. We take every case really seriously and investigate and follow up on every case we do come across,” Victor Cruz, Epidemiologist for the state of Minnesota said.

Health officials say that anyone can get pertussis at any time of year. The highly contagious disease is caused by a bacterium that affects the lungs and airways. It spreads through coughing or sneezing.

“After two weeks, it can turn into quite a violent cough and so we call it the 100-day cough. Some adults can break ribs from the significance of that cough and in little babies with that cough, they can not have enough air and have something called apnea, where they stop breathing,” Sarah Manney, pediatrician at Essentia Health said.

Symptoms of the disease include coughing, vomiting and difficulty breathing. Health officials say folks should see a professional if their cough is persistent.

There are two vaccines to prevent pertussis. These are the D-Tap for children and the T-Dap for adults.

“Vaccination starts for children at two months of age. There’s a series of vaccinations—five vaccinations and at four years of age, they are considered fully vaccinated. There’s a booster shot again between 11 and 12 years of age and then all adults should also receive that vaccination as well,” Manney said.

Pregnant women can also receive the T-Dap vaccination during their third trimester of pregnancy.

“The reason that we have the T-Dap with every pregnancy is so that the mother can have antibodies so she can pass on to the child,” Cruz said.

One pregnant woman we spoke to said that she planned to get a vaccination.

“It’s considered heard immunity so the more that we can vaccinate, you know the more the people down the road are going to be immunized and have immunity, so if I can do what I can as one little person, we can share with the community and help keep everyone healthy,” Ashley Cameron said.

Manney said other ways to prevent pertussis are to wash hands, cover coughs and avoid sharing foods and beverages, but the best way to prevent the illness is to get a vaccine.

“With all vaccines, they’re well studied. They’re very effective. And so, I stress the importance of that and it is supported by science and lots of experience, but I always talk about how in our community, we need to help each other that live in this community and we need to help each other by vaccinating ourselves even if we’re not sick and we’re healthy,” Manney said.

More information about pertussis can be found here.

To read the original report and see related stories, follow this link to the WDIO-TV website.

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