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Pertussis claims a small life in Snohomish County

Published on Tue, Aug 23, 2011 by JOURNAL STAFF

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Snohomish Health District reports the death on August 16, 2011, of a newborn child from pertussis, or “whooping cough.” The Snohomish County infant’s illness brings to the number of confirmed cases to 52 reported in Snohomish County so far in 2011.

The Health District reported a total of 25 confirmed cases of the illness for all of 2010.
“Our hearts go out to the family of this baby,” said Dr. Gary Goldbaum, Health Officer and Director of Snohomish Health District. “The tragic loss of this little one’s life saddens us all.”

It’s important to surround infants with a protective “cocoon” of immunity because a newborn is too young to be vaccinated,” said Dr. Goldbaum. ““If you or your children have been coughing for more than two weeks please call your health care provider and discuss whether you and your family should be seen and tested for whooping cough.”

Small children and infants are especially at risk of illness. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices at the US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (ACIP/CDC) recently recommended fully immunizing women against pertussis during their pregnancies in lieu of waiting to vaccinate post partum.

The initial symptoms of pertussis appear as an ordinary cold, with runny nose, sneezing, and a mild cough. It progresses within two weeks and can persist for months to include severe coughing in fits or spasms followed by a whooping sound, and vomiting.

Of the confirmed cases thus far in 2011, eight were infants younger than 1 year old; eight were young children age 1-5; 19 were age 6-17; and 17 were adults. The cases occurred throughout the county. No schools have been closed for pertussis outbreaks.
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