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Death Of Minnesota Infant Linked To Whooping Cough

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A baby in Minnesota has died after being hospitalized for three months for whooping cough. It's the first death from the virus in Minnesota since 2013.

State health officials say they saw dozens of cases of Whooping cough in infants in Minnesota last year.

"It's an opportunity for us to remind parents especially moms of the importance that they are vaccinated," said Kris Ehresmann, Minnesota Department of Health.

Minnesota Department of Health Director for infectious disease Kris Ehresmann says anyone can get whooping cough but infants are most at risk for serious complications and they can't get a vaccine until they're at least 2 months old.

Expecting moms are encouraged to get the Tdap vaccine in the third trimester of each pregnancy.

"Getting that Tdap vaccine is really important because you are able to provide protection to your baby directly," Ehresmann explained.

Yet only 40%-50% of pregnant women are getting the vaccine, health officials say. But why?

"We know we have more work to do to make sure health care providers are offering the vaccine to moms so they know it's available and that it's important," added Ehresmann.

Ehresmann says some pregnant women may also be confused about what's safe in pregnancy. She says getting vaccinated in pregnancy will also lessen symptoms in a baby if they still get whooping cough.

"If everyone was getting vaccinated, this system would work," said Ehresmann.

Symptoms start with a common cold, issues like a runny nose and mild cough, but weeks later may turn into rapid coughs with the signature high pitched 'whoop' sound although not in every case.

"With infants and young children, the coughing can be so severe they may vomit," said Ehresmann.

If you recognize these symptoms or your child has a cough that goes on for weeks, contact your doctor.

Health officials also encourage expecting parents to make sure anyone who will be around their new baby is vaccinated against whooping cough.

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