Iowa child dies of whooping cough - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa child dies of whooping cough

DES MOINES (KWWL) - The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has confirmed the pertussis (whooping cough)-associated death of a young child in southeast Iowa.

Pertussis is a disease caused by bacteria. It causes coughing spells so severe that it is difficult for infants to eat, drink or breathe. Whooping cough is spread when someone who is sick with pertussis coughs and spreads the bacteria to others. Coughing spells can last for weeks; pertussis can lead to pneumonia, seizures, brain damage and death.

"This tragic death serves as a reminder that vaccine-preventable diseases can cause complications and death among infants and young children who are too young to be fully vaccinated," said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. "It's important for all adults, especially those around children less than 5 years of age, to be fully vaccinated to prevent the spread of infectious diseases like pertussis."

Adults may not realize they have whooping cough because the symptoms of pertussis can begin like the common cold. Young children get whooping cough from infected people around them. This is why it's critical for everyone around infants and young children to be up-to-date on their tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis vaccines.

Until recently there was no pertussis vaccine for adults, but today the tetanus booster vaccine, Tdap, contains pertussis and provides the immunity needed to ensure they do not pass pertussis to vulnerable people. Even if you had a tetanus booster less than 10 years ago, you can receive the pertussis-containing vaccine.

IDPH recommends all adults receive the Tdap booster vaccine and all children receive their recommended vaccines on time, including the pertussis vaccination.

For more information about pertussis, visit

Online Producer: Jason Mortvedt

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