An unvaccinated baby in Florida has died from whooping cough, also known as pertussis, according to health officials who said the infant's death probably could have been prevented.
Details about the child weren't released by Orange County health officials, who only said the child had not received a vaccination for the disease, reported WKMG Local 6
Health officials said they believed the baby caught whooping cough from an infected adult, according to WFTV.com 9.
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The county's health department said it's seen a recent spike in cases of whooping cough and measles in the Orlando area, most likely because more parents aren't vaccinating their children over worries about a possible link between vaccines and autism.
Researchers claim that babies receiving a three-in-one diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine that contains the preservative thiomersal are six times more likely to become autistic than those who are given a mercury-free alternative, but that particular DTP vaccine was phased out in the United States five years ago, as well as in Western Europe, Japan, and Canada, the Daily Mail reported.
Thiomersal had been used for more than 60 years to prevent vaccines from spoiling.
"It is clear that thiomersal has no place in medicine. These are our children. It should be banned for use in humans at any concentrations," said the study's author, Dr. Mark Geier.
The CDC in Atlanta reported more than 41,000 cases of whooping cough in the United States in 2012, including 18 deaths, the highest number of cases in any one year since 1955. Most of the deaths were in children younger than 1.
The Orange County whooping cough death was the first in decades. Health officials said it's been at least 20 years or more since someone died of the disease there, reported WFTV.com 9.
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Health officials around the country blame a surge in pertussis among children on adults whose childhood vaccinations have become less effective and have avoided an adult booster.
The CDC said adults need a booster shot after age 18, but only 8 percent of adults are getting the recommended booster.
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