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Whooping Cough Takes Life Of Local Infant

By By Jake Taylor
Published On: May 03 2012 06:41:42 AM CDT
Updated On: May 03 2012 07:20:29 AM CDT
POCATELLO, Idaho -

An infant from Pocatello died Thursday, from a once almost defeated disease now seeing a resurgence, pertussis.

At 9 weeks old, this infant was too young to get a vaccine, but health professionals said if more people in the community made sure children got immunized, the baby likely wouldn't have caught this disease.

The distinct wheezing noise a child infected with pertussis makes when gasping for breath in between fits of coughing, gave the disease it's nickname, whooping cough.

"Pertussis is a very contagious disease. It's a very debilitating, life-threatening disease also for little ones who can't fight it off,? Portneuf Medical Center Infection Preventionist Joyce Olson said.

Olson said it is especially tragic when a child dies of a disease that has vaccines against it.

"It's very sad when any child that young, or any age, dies of pertussis, because it is a preventable one. It is a very sad situation,? Olson said.

Southeastern Idaho Public Health said if 90 percent of kids were vaccinated, the disease would be almost nonexistent.

But many parents choose not to immunize their kids, some citing fears of a believed connection to autism.

Those at SIPH said there's no significant danger from getting vaccinated.

"Vaccines are very, very safe. They are monitored so closely for any kind of adverse reaction, and the benefits of the vaccine, far, far, far and away outweigh any minimal risks,? SIPH District Director Maggie Mann said.

It is a parents choice whether to immunize their kids, but those with SIPH said people should remember that one child not getting vaccinated means all children are more likely to get sick.

"While this is totally their call, whether or not to have their child vaccinated, it is critically important in protecting children against a variety of really serious childhood diseases,? Mann said.

According to SIPH, in local communities 72 percent of children are immunized.

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