'She deteriorated so quickly': Parents of baby who died from whooping cough recall her final days

ITV News Reporter Stacey Foster speaks to the parents of Evie-Grace died at 15 days old after contracting whooping cough.

The parents of Baby Evie-Grace who died at just 15 days old after contracting whooping cough described her rapid deterioration.

Evie-Grace's father, Reece Lewis described the first few days of her daughters life as 'perfectly fine'.

"It was around day seven when we really started to worry."

"In the last two to three days, of her life, it was when it really went bad and she just deteriorated so quickly - it was unreal."

Evie-Grace's mother, Caitlin had taken whooping cough vaccination and they now want more people to understand the signs of the condition. They are also fundraising for the children's hospital which helped her in her final days.

Cases at the start of this year have more than trebled compared with the whole of 2023, new figures have revealed.

Five babies in England died between January and the end of March after being diagnosed with whooping cough - also known as also known as pertussis.

More than 2,700 whooping cough cases have been reported across the country so far in 2024, with 1,319 cases reported in March alone, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

Throughout the entirety of 2023, 858 cases of whooping cough were recorded.

UKHSA consultant epidemiologist Dr Gayatri Amirthalingam said: "Whooping cough can affect people of all ages, but for very young babies it can be extremely serious.

"Our thoughts and condolences are with those families who have so tragically lost their baby."

Whooping cough vaccine

The NHS recommends all pregnant women are vaccinated against whooping cough between 16 and 32 weeks.

Vaccine uptake has fallen in recent years - both the jabs for pregnant women and children - according to the UKHSA.

Immunity from the jab passes through the placenta to protect newborn babies in their first weeks of life.

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When a baby is eight weeks old they are offered the six-in-one vaccine, which includes immunisation against whooping cough.

The second dose of the vaccine is offered at 12 weeks and the third is offered at 16 weeks.

When children are three years and four months they will be offered the four-in-one pre-school booster, which protects against pertussis.

Dr Amirthalingam added: "Vaccination remains the best defence against whooping cough and it is vital that pregnant women and young infants receive their vaccines at the right time."

What is whooping cough?

Whooping cough is a bacterial infection, which affects the lungs and breathing tubes.

It can be referred to as the "100-day cough" because of how long it can take to recover from it, and it spreads very easily.

Health officials describe whooping cough as a "cyclical disease", which means it peaks every few years. With whooping cough this is every three to five years.

The last big increase was seen in 2016, but cases dipped to very low numbers during the coronavirus pandemic which means the current peak is "overdue", the UKHSA said.

It added the impact of the pandemic means there is "reduced immunity in the population".

What are the symptoms?

The UKHSA said the first signs of whooping cough are similar to a cold - such as a runny nose and sore throat - but after about a week, the infection can develop into coughing bouts that last for a few minutes and are typically worse at night.

Young babies may also make a distinctive "whoop" or have difficulty breathing after a bout of coughing, though not all babies make this noise which means whooping cough can be hard to recognise.

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