8 Calif. Babies Died After Late Diagnoses

SACRAMENTO, Sept. 7 (UPI) — California hospitals and clinics failed to diagnose whooping cough in eight babies until it was too late to save their lives, state health officials say.

Dr. John Talarico of the California Department of Public Health said in a letter to doctors, clinics and hospitals that doctors examining babies under the age of 6 months with trouble breathing should always suspect whooping cough or pertussis, the Los Angeles Times reportedTuesday. He said the eight who died this year were all examined several times before the correct diagnosis was made.

“In several cases, the infants were treated only for nasal congestion or mild upper respiratory infection,” he wrote. “By the time these infants developed severe respiratory distress, it was usually too late for any intervention to prevent their tragic deaths.”

California is in the midst of its worst pertussis epidemic since 1958. Talarico said that as long as the epidemic lasts infants with respiratory symptoms should be assumed to have pertussis.

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