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1st Whooping Cough Baby Death Since ’05

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The whooping cough death last week of a 2-month-old San Miguel County child marks the first pertussis-related death of a New Mexico infant since 2005, the state Department of Health said Monday.

Health officials did not know Monday how the child contracted the bacterial illness. But the death highlights the need for anyone in contact with infants to receive a vaccine for pertussis, said Dr. Joan Baumbach, the state’s medical epidemiologist.

Infants 6 months and younger are most vulnerable to pertussis because they have not received multiple doses of pertussis vaccine.

Health officials recommend that infants receive a four-dose pertussis vaccine series called DTaP between 2-18 months of age.

Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory disease. The number of whooping cough cases has climbed in recent years from 85 cases in 2009 to 274 cases last year. The state had experienced 112 cases this year as of Sunday.

The agency recommends that pregnant women receive a booster shot of DTaP after the 20th week of pregnancy. The vaccine guards against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal