OC Health Care Agency (HCA) officials have recently confirmed a pertussis-related death in an infant. The case is the first pertussis-related death reported in Orange County, California since 2007. “We are deeply saddened by this loss of life and send our condolences to the family,” said Dr. Nichole Quick, Interim County Health Officer.
During 2018, 171 cases of pertussis were reported to HCA’s Public Health Services division, including eight cases in infants under three months of age. Of the infants less than three months old, seven of eight required hospitalization. Receiving the Tdap vaccine (adult tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis) during pregnancy has shown to be safe way to protect mother and baby from serious illness. “Maternal vaccination during pregnancy has been found to be 90% effective in preventing pertussis disease in children under two months of age,” said Dr. Quick.
Pertussis, a respiratory illness commonly known as whooping cough, is a very contagious disease that is easily spread from person to person through coughing or sneezing. Symptoms of pertussis usually develop within 5 to 10 days after exposure, but can sometimes take 3 weeks. Early signs and symptoms usually consist of a runny nose, low-grade fever, mild cough, and pauses in breathing patterns. Later-stage symptoms may include paroxysms (sudden attacks) of rapid coughing followed by a high-pitched “whoop,” vomiting during or after coughing fits, and exhaustion.
“The best way to prevent pertussis is to be up-to-date on vaccinations. Children should receive five doses of DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis) as part of their routine vaccination schedule starting at two months of age,” said Dr. Quick. “Pregnant women during each pregnancy, regardless of when their previous pregnancy occurred, are strongly recommended to receive Tdap vaccine during their third trimester (weeks 27 to 36). Vaccination during this time stimulates production of maternal antibodies that are passed on to the infant, offering protection to the baby against pertussis during the first few months of life.”
For more information about immunizations, including pertussis, please visit http://ochealthinfo.com/phs/about/family/iz.