PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - The Palm Beach County Health Department has now recorded its first deadly case of whooping cough, and is releasing few details about the case because of patient confidentiality laws.
What they are saying, though, is that the death happened this week and that the child was too young to get the vaccination. That means the infant was under 2 months of age.
Fortunately, for ten-month-old Stravensky Dumerlus, he won't have to worry about whooping cough. Still, he doesn't realize that the pain he experienced at the Lantana/Lake Worth Health Center is actually good for him.
Little Stravensky screamed after getting a series of shots, including one to prevent whooping cough. And that's exactly what the Palm Beach County Health Department hopes more people will do. Get their vaccinations.
Dr. Alina Alonso, the Palm Beach County Health Dept. Director says, "It's a respiratory infection that's transmitted from person to person."
Speaking through a translator Joseline Dumerlus said the death really touched her because she's a mother.
"This is a tragedy that can be 100 percent preventable with the vaccination," said Dr. Alonso.
The push for the vaccination has been growing because the number of cases has been increasing. The Palm Beach County Health Department reports that, so far this year, there have been 15 cases of whooping cough. That compares to 4 cases last year over the same time period. None was deadly, which makes this death so significant.
Denise Chisholm, a nurse for the Palm Beach County Health Department, says, "Herd immunity. People used to depend on that. And what with travel being the way it is and people going in and out, disease is right around the corner and you can catch it from anyone."
Another nurse at the Lantana/Lake Worth Health Center says that, in his native Haiti, Stravensky would've gotten the vaccination, but his mom likely would not have been given information about whooping cough or a record of the vaccination.
Joseline feels happy because her baby will not get the disease because he is getting the vaccine.
In case you're wondering, whooping cough vaccinations are supposed to happen at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months and 18 months of age. Then, the 5th dose is supposed to be received just before the child starts school.
Dr. Alonso also recommends adults get the vaccine to prevent infecting a young child.