Sadly, whooping cough (Bordetella pertussis) has killed an infant in San Miguel County, New Mexico. According to the New Mexico Department of Public Health said that it was the first time that an infant in the state has died from pertussis since 2005. The infant was two months old, and had been given the first of three doses of the DTaP vaccine, which immunizes children against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. The vaccine doesn’t induce a sufficient immune response until the third dose, which is given at around 6 months, so infants are at risk from being infected by the bacteria. The only way the infant could have contracted whooping cough was from another infected person, like an adult (whose immunity has lapsed) or an unvaccinated child.
In the same report, the state’s Department of Health say that New Mexico experienced more whooping cough cases in 2011 than any time since the 1980’s. They also state that they have confirmed 110 cases of the disease s0 far in 2012, ahead of the rate in 2011. Of those 110, 13 have been in infants, and of those eight required hospitalization.
This case is very sad, because the parents were responsible, and got their child vaccinated. But someone else, who was not immune or a child whose parents refused to vaccinate them, passed this dangerous infection on to the dead child.
Vaccines save lives. Literally.