June 5, 2008 / 11:00 PM / 9 years ago

Newborns caught whooping cough from hospital nurse

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Public health officials investigating a 2004 outbreak of whooping cough, or pertussis, among newborns in Texas identified the source as a health-care worker where the babies were born.

Staff members at a children’s hospital in Texas noticed that six infants admitted with whooping cough had been born during the first half of June at the same general hospital.

A review of records uncovered a total of 11 such infants, on average about a month old, whose symptoms included cough, congestion, vomiting and arrested breathing. Nine infants had to be admitted to the hospital, including five treated in the intensive care unit.

According to their report in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, J. L. Hood and colleagues identified a 24-year-old health-care worker who had symptoms of cough, which brought on vomiting, and difficulty breathing while working in the newborn nursery from early June until mid July.

During that time she directly cared for 113 infants, including the 11 who came down with whooping cough.

All the babies recovered after treatment.

The health-care worker in this case had been fully immunized against pertussis during childhood. However, the CDC points out in an editorial note that the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that health-care workers with direct patient contact and adults who have close contact with infants should be given the Tdap (tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis) vaccine.

SOURCE: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, June 6, 2008.

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