NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – We know an infant in Dallas County died in what is expected to be the worst whooping cough outbreak in more than 50 years.
So far this year, there have been more than 1,100 reported cases in North Texas, with nearly half of them in Tarrant County.
One North Texas mother, who told her emotional story to CBS 11 News, had a warning for parents.
It wasn’t long ago that 4-month-old Bailey was struggling with coughing fits so serious she couldn’t breathe. Mom Michelle Fredrickson remembered, “She had turned grey and her lips were blue and her eyes starting rolling back in her head. That’s when I was like ‘she’s choking!’”
Fredrickson says she took her daughter to the doctor three times. Repeatedly, they diagnosed the baby with an infection and sent her home.
Then one day Fredrickson said Bailey started to lose consciousness. The emergency situation forced her to use skills from a CPS class to clear her daughter’s airway.
“I was just praying like, ‘let my baby be okay.’ That’s all I could think,” she said. “I don’t know what’s wrong.”
After that incident Fredrickson said, “We’re going back to the hospital and I’m not leaving until something happens.”
Doctors at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth recognized right away that Bailey had whooping cough. They admitted her to the hospital for 11 days.
Tarrant Co. Medical Director Dr. Sandra Parker said, “This is a record year for the number of pertussis cases here in Tarrant County, as it is for other parts of the state.”
Tarrant County Public Health is now spreading the word, to put doctors, parents, and childcare providers on alert.
Early symptoms of whooping cough are similar to those of the common cold – a runny nose, low fever, and coughing. For adults the illness may never get any worse than that. “But babies, when they get whooping cough, they have tiny little airways, they have a lot of inflammation in the airways,” explained Dr. Don Murphey, with Cook Children’s. “They can end up with pneumonia, stop breathing, [and put] stress on their heart.”
This past July, the disease also proved deadly when an infant in Dallas, no older than Bailey, died.
Reflecting on how bad things had been for Bailey, Fredrickson said, “That broke my heart. It’s just so hard to hear that somebody lost their baby because of that. I can’t even imagine how helpless that mom must have felt. It easily could have been me. It could have been my daughter.”
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