PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - A 2-month-old Palm Beach County baby who died from whooping cough this week caught it from two adults in the household who also were infected, health officials said Wednesday.
Tests showed that one of the adults caught the bacteria first, developed a mild illness and passed the disease to the infant and the other adult, said Tim O'Connor, a spokesman for the Palm Beach County Health Department.
The department has released no details about the family, other than the baby died early this week at a hospital in the western part of the county. The adults had symptoms but did not need to be hospitalized, O'Connor said.
The three cases bring the number of whooping cough cases in the county to 20 so far this year, up from four during the same period last year. Cases are up 10 percent statewide, although down in some parts of the state and the nation. Officials say the illness is undercounted nationally.
"We'll probably even see more cases [among] people with a bad cold and cough. We're asking the physicians to consider this as a diagnosis and look for it more often," O'Connor said.
Health officials also are urging adults to consider getting a booster shot of Tdap vaccine, which protects against the disease, called pertussis, as well as tetanus and diphtheria.That's especially true among adults spending time around infants, whose undeveloped immune systems make them the most vulnerable to the bacteria.
Babies at age two months should get the first in a series of five shots of a version of the vaccine called DTaP, then get a booster shot by their teen years.
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