An Australian mother is aiming to raise awareness about the dangers of whooping cough and the importance of vaccination after their son died of the virus when he was only 4 weeks old.
News.com.au reported that Catherine Hughes, of Perth, Australia, recently updated her Facebook page “Light for Riley” with a video of her son Riley ceaselessly coughing before whooping cough, also called pertussis, claimed his life.
“I have always kept these videos to myself, as it makes my blood run cold listening to my beautiful boy cough like that,” she wrote in the post. “But we are sharing this in the hopes that it will convince just one more pregnant mum to protect their baby from this disease.”
Catherine was vaccinated against whooping cough as a child and received the booster shot for the vaccine three years before Riley was born. Although most medical professionals, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States, recommend pregnant mothers also get the vaccine during their third trimester, doctors reportedly told Catherine that her vaccinations were “sufficient” to protect Riley, who would be too early to begin receiving the vaccinations necessary for protecting him against whooping cough until he was 2 months old.
News.com.au did not report how Riley may have become infected with whooping cough— which causes a runny nose, nasal congestion, red and watery eyes, a fever, and a cough that has a “whoop sound” at the end, according to the Mayo Clinic. But in her video Catherine encourages new mothers to get the vaccine during their third trimester, and she advises keeping potentially sick people away from their young children, as they may also expose newborns to the virus. Whooping cough took Riley’s life in March 2014.
“I loved being Riley’s mum for those four weeks. I wish it were longer,” Catherine wrote in the caption for the heartbreaking video. “Please share to help ensure no more babies die from this disease, which I hope one day will be relegated to the history books.”