Minnesota reports 1st infant death from whooping cough in 6 years

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Minnesota health officials reported that in November 2019 an infant died from whooping cough, six years after the last whooping cough-related infant death in 2013.

The infant was diagnosed with whooping cough, also known as pertussis, in August last year and hospitalized for three months.

Whooping cough is a very contagious respiratory infection with symptoms that start with sneezing and a runny nose; later severe, persistent coughing develops. While anyone can contract the disease, it is especially severe among infants. Preliminary data for 2019 shows there were 25 cases of whooping cough in infants younger than 6 months in Minnesota, of which eight were hospitalized.

Health officials said that getting vaccinated is key for preventing whooping cough, particularly during pregnancy. They recommend women receive the tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis, or Tdap, vaccine during the third trimester of pregnancy. In 2018 and 2019, only 44 percent of the mothers whose infants contracted whooping cough had received the vaccine during pregnancy.

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