Snohomish mom, infant contract whooping cough; baby dies



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Posted on August 19, 2011 at 12:57 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:44 AM

SNOHOMISH, Wash. -- Snohomish County health officials confirm a newborn has died from pertussis, or more commonly known as "whooping cough."

That brings the total number of confirmed pertussis cases in the county to 52, double the number from last year.

Chelsey Charles gave birth to her daughter, Kaliah Jeffrey, healthy. Days after delivery, Chelsey began to panic when her own cough turned violent.

"Everyone thought I was crazy when I thought it was whooping cough," she said.

Chelsey took Kaliah into the hospital to have both of them tested. That's where she found out both she and her baby had whooping cough. But nine days of medical treatment couldn't save Kaliah.

"We went back into the room and I held her in my arms and then they took her off the machine and within minutes she was gone," said Chelsey.

Kaliah was 27-days-old and died on August 16.

Chelsey was immunized for whooping cough when she was 12, but doctors said the vaccine likely wore off.

"Our hearts go out to the family of this baby," said Dr. Gary Goldbaum, Health Officer and Director of Snohomish Health District. "The tragic loss of this little one‟s life saddens us all."

Of the confirmed cases, eight were infants, eight were children ages 1-5 and 19 were 6-17.

Health officials say small children and infants are especially at risk of whooping cough. The CDC recently recommended immunizing women against pertussis during their pregnancy instead of waiting to vaccinate after birth.

Initial symptoms of pertussis can appear as an ordinary cold with runny nose, sneezing and mild cough, say Snohomish County health officials. It can progress within two weeks and persist for months and may include coughing in fits or spasms, followed by a whooping sound and vomiting. (Listen to sounds and symptoms of whooping cough)

Health officials say if you or your children have been coughing for more than two weeks, call your doctor.

As for Chelsey, she hopes no other mother has to go through this pain.
"It hurts I feel like it's my fault, but it's not, I don't know where I got it," said Chelsey.
An account has been set up for Kaliah Jeffery at Key Bank through her aunt, Rhonda Lowdry.
Family and friends are throwing a car wash fundraiser to help pay for funeral expenses at Norm's Market in Lake Stevens at noon on Sunday.