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Wednesday 26th June 2019

Whooping cough baby deaths

13th April 2012

The Health Protection Agency has issued an alert over whooping-cough in England and Wales after three babies died from complications of the condition.


The HPA has reported 665 lab-confirmed cases, 65 of which were in babies under three months – an age before they are fully vaccinated.

It has warned anyone infected to get prompt treatment to prevent the spread of the condition, particularly among young babies.

Whooping-cough cases surge every three or four years, with 1,040 cases reported in 2011, up from 421 the previous year.

There were seven deaths in young babies in 2008, two in 2009 and one in 2010.

The HPA’s head of immunisation Dr Mary Ramsay said: “Anyone showing signs and symptoms - which include severe coughing fits accompanied by the characteristic 'whoop' sound in young children, but as a prolonged cough in older children and adults - should visit their GP.

“Whooping cough can spread easily to close contacts such as household members.”

With vaccination the most effective way to protect against whooping-cough, the HPA has urged parents to ensure their children are up to date with their vaccinations.

The HPA has written to family doctors to remind them of the signs and symptom and stress the importance of vaccination.

Dr Ramsay added: “The agency is also encouraging GPs to report cases quickly and to make them aware of the HPA’s guidance to help reduce the spread of the infection.”

In the UK, babies are vaccinated at two, three and four months but only have full protection after all three jabs.


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