New Jersey newborn's bout with whooping cough has parents advocating for vaccination
(CBS News) With cases of whooping cough spreading across the country, one New Jersey family says more awareness is needed about the potential dangers following the their baby's brush with death.
CBS station KYW in Philadelphia reports that 11-week-old Marco Sena had a scary battle with pertussis, better known as whooping cough, but is finally back home and improving.
"It was the distinctive whoop. He would go like that, but then he would stop breathing," Amy Sena, Marco's mother, explained to KYW.
Marco's parents say the baby was repeatedly misdiagnosed until they took him to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where Marco was admitted to the intensive care unit. The final diagnosis was whooping cough, which is a bacterial infection of the respiratory system.
"It can be difficult to diagnose in babies, and there's not a good treatment for it," Dr. William Sharrar, a pediatrician with Children's Regional Hospital at Cooper told KYW. He did not treat Marco, who was just five weeks old at the time. The child ended up being hospitalized for weeks.
"We just didn't think he was going to make it. About every thirty minutes, he would stop breathing. He would just gasp for air, and stop breathing," explained Amy.
Marco is lucky: Some babies with whooping cough don't survive. About 1 to 2 of every 100 infants who are hospitalized with pertussis die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but bealth officials believe whooping cough is underreported in adults who can't distinguish it from other coughing ailments. Whooping cough typically starts as a common cold, with runny nose, sneezing or congestion and fever, but after one or two weeks can progress to severe coughing.
The government's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices in February recommended that all U.S. adults get a whooping cough vaccine, even those over 65 who traditionally don't get the shots. Babies can't get vaccinated until they're two months old, and it's contagious so anyone around a newborn needs to be vaccinated or get a booster.
"The scary thing is that we did not know anything about it. I was given a booster, but it was never conveyed that maybe the husband should get his booster, grandparents, anyone that comes and visits the baby," Amy stated.
"It does wear out over a number of years, and you need to be revaccinated," said Sharrar.
The Sena family doesn't know who may have infected Marco, but they want other parents to know about the potential danger of not getting vaccine boosters.
"This didn't have to happen to him," Amy said.
Tom Skinner, spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
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