Baby in Laurentians dies from whooping cough

A six-week-old baby boy has died in the Laurentians of whooping cough, also known as pertussis. His parents had not been vaccinated against the respiratory disease.

Public health officials say there have been 150 cases of whooping cough in the region this year

Public health officials are encouraging Canadians of all ages to make sure their vaccinations are up to date in the wake of a whooping cough outbreak. (CBC)

A six-week-old baby boy has died in the Laurentians of whooping cough, a highly contagious bacterial respiratory infection also known as pertussis.

Another child, who was about 18-months-old, also died recently in a nearby region.

Dr. Jean-Luc Grenier, a doctor working with the regional public health office, said the infant was too young to be vaccinated but contracted the disease from his family members and entourage, who were not vaccinated.

"It's awful, you know, because this is a vaccine-preventable disease," Grenier said, adding that the vaccine is 85 per cent effective.

1st vaccine at 2 months

Quebec's Health Ministry recommends all children are vaccinated, with a first shot at two months.

Children must receive five shots in all to be protected from the disease: at two months, four months, six months and 18 months, then a final booster between the age of four and six.

Teens receive a sixth dose of the vaccine in their third year of high school.  Adults need to get a one-time booster to be fully protected.  

The whooping cough booster is a combination vaccine, with diptheria and tetanus. Once an adult receives the combination booster, they need a further booster for diptheria and tetanus once every ten years.

150 cases in Laurentians

According to public health officials, there have been 150 cases of whooping cough this year in the Laurentians alone, which is two to three times the yearly average.

Across the province, 611 people caught whooping cough to date in 2015. Seventy per cent were patients under the age of 15.

Grenier said people who are sick with whooping cough develop a "terrible cough" that is so bad, patients sometimes break their ribs from the coughing.

"The cough never ends. You can't even catch your breath," Grenier said.

He said it's particularly dangerous for children under the age of six months, which is when mortality rates can be high.

Between 2000 and 2014, whooping cough was responsible for four deaths in Quebec — all of them children under the age of 3.


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