Local News

State reports first death from whooping cough

Posted August 20, 2012

The state on Monday reported the first infant death this year from pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough.

The 2-month-old child was from Forsyth County, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Whooping cough is highly contagious and spread usually by coughing or sneezing in close contact. It can be serious at any age, but it is life-threatening in newborns and infants who are too young to be fully vaccinated, state health officials said. Many infants who get whooping cough are infected by caregivers who may not know they have the disease.

Officials are strongly urging parents to take precautions to safeguard their children against whooping cough. Children should have current vaccinations and boosters, and adults who interact with children also should be immunized.

“Babies and young children are not fully immunized until they have finished a series of vaccinations, so their only protection against whooping cough is the people around them,” State Health Director Dr. Laura Gerald said. “Anyone who lives with or will be around a baby should be vaccinated.”

DHSS is offering Tdap, a vaccine against pertussis, at no cost for residents ages 7 and older. Health care providers may charge an administration fee. 

The vaccine is available through the North Carolina Immunization Network, which includes private health care providers and local health departments.

Tdap is highly recommended for women who are pregnant or may become pregnant; anyone in close contact with infants under 12 months old; and anyone with a chronic respiratory illness.


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  • baracus Aug 23, 2012

    "Folks don't want to talk about the 800lb gorilla in the room, but some of this rise in cases is the result of children being brought to this country by their similarly non-immunized "non-American" parents."

    While it is likely true that this is causing SOME of the rise in cases, the highest incidence rates have mostly been in northern states with lower immigrant populations rather than border states. Combine that with the fact that many cases have been in people who have been vaccinated and the 800 lb gorilla appears to be more like a little yippy dog.

  • DavyCrockett Aug 22, 2012

    Folks don't want to talk about the 800lb gorilla in the room, but some of this rise in cases is the result of children being brought to this country by their similarly non-immunized "non-American" parents.

  • MrsPage1989 Aug 22, 2012

    >>>Before a vaccine was available, pertussis killed 5,000 to 10,000 people in the United States each year. EACH YEAR!!!

    Now, the pertussis vaccine has reduced the annual number of deaths to less than 30.

  • lakelandrainbarrels Aug 21, 2012

    Here's a collection of mainstream news stories and studies which prove the vaccine is causing the bacteria to mutate - AND - that the overwhelming majority who contract WC are fully vaccinated:




  • mpheels Aug 21, 2012

    passport423 - Whooping cough (pertussis), diphtheria, and tetanus are generally combined in one vaccine. If you've had a tetanus booster as an adult, the shot probably contained the pertussis booster as well.

    Immunity from vaccines does wear off over time, but our population had pretty good herd immunity for pertussis for many years, and the wearing off wasn't too big of a deal in adults wasn't a huge deal because kids were still immune and that disrupted transmission just enough to keep infection down. As more and more parents are choosing not to vaccinate, pertussis is slowly creeping back. There may not be many deaths yet, but the number will only increase from here if people continue going without vaccines. The same with happen with measles, mumps, rubella, polio...

  • passport423 Aug 21, 2012

    Everybody at some point has contact with babies so that would mean that all of us should get vaccinated. If we were vaccinated as children does that mean we still okay to be around babies 40-50 years later? I would guess so or else there would be many more cases of babies dying of whooping cough. So perhaps the danger is from people who never got vaccinated as a child.....

  • mpheels Aug 21, 2012

    There is no evidence that vaccines contribute to or cause autism. None. The study that spark all the hand wringing has been thoroughly debunked. The scientist responsible for that paper lost his job and his medical license. The entire study was unethical, and was paid for in part by parties looking for evidence to sue vaccine makers. If, despite that, you still have concerns about vaccines, talk to your doctor about alternative vaccine schedules, or about which vaccines can be postponed. Vaccines save lives.

  • Student Nurse Aug 21, 2012

    I know of 2 local families that chose not to vaccinate because they were afraid of autism and other mysterious developmental side effects of vaccines. Jenny McCarthy's advice. I chose to vaccinate, my oldest does have autism, and sure, I had fears and worries over it! But at least my autistic son didn't give a wee baby the whooping cough.

  • foghat001 Aug 21, 2012

    So sad. Babies are innocent. I hope we can eventually eradicate this disease as thoroughly as smallpox.

  • shortcake53 Aug 21, 2012

    My deepest sympathy to the family of the infant who passed.