First Confirmed Pertussis Death in Nueces County - KiiiTV.com South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

First Confirmed Pertussis Death in Nueces County

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CORPUS CHRISTI (Kiii News) -

The first confirmed death from Pertussis or Whooping Cough is being reported by the City County Health Department on the same day they held a news conference to talk about the dangers of the disease for children.

Health Department Director Annette Rodriguez says the death was an infant younger 6 month old who has been hospitalized since August 28, 2013.

At a news conference Wednesday morning, Health Department officials announced 16 cases of whooping cough so far this year as opposed to 13 last year.

While officials say that number seems small, they say those are just reported cases and there are many that officials are unaware of. An infectious disease specialist at Driscoll Children's Hospital, Dr. Jaime Fergie, believes the reason Hispanics are more at risk is a strong sense of family.

"The Hispanic community are suffering most with this. And I can only speculate the Hispanic community, large families, a lot of interaction, that probably has something to do with it. But it's happening across the country and Hispanics and Hispanic babies are suffering the most with this," said Dr. Fergie.

While immunizations are important for expectant mothers during the third trimester, other family members who will be in contact with the infants can pass on the disease. Doctors say many adults may have Pertussis and not know it.

We talked to two woman who have had personal experience with Whooping Cough.

"I was pregnant with my daughter and when I had her, she had gotten Pertussis, the Whooping Cough, said Mary Molina. "It was pretty bad. She was in the hospital about a month. She would get a very bad coughing spells. That's when I started noticing she needed to get put in the hospital," said Molina.

There were almost 33,000 cases of Pertussis in this country last year. Wednesday's death in Nueces County brings the total of deaths statewide this year to four.

Officials remind parents that shots are available at reduced costs from the Health Department.

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