EDITOR’S NOTE: The correct spelling of the mother’s name is Carmit. It originally appeared as Cormit in the story. The Australian regional health authority provided two versions of the name online. A correction has been made.
An Australian mother is speaking out and warning others of the risks of avoiding vaccinations.
Carmit Avital appears in a video for an Australian regional health authority, Gold Coast Health. Standing in a hospital room holding a baby, she tells the camera she has been in hospital with her daughter Eva for the last three weeks, after the infant was diagnosed with pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough.
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“It’s been a nightmare.”
Carmit says she was healthy throughout her pregnancy, eating well and working out every day. Then in the last two weeks of her pregnancy, she got whooping cough. She had an annoying cough, but didn’t think much of it.
“I quickly found out that I have pertussis, and well, I’ve given it to her,” she says.
She goes on to describe “horror movie” symptoms in her newborn.
“Coughing to the point of going blue, flopping in my hands, can’t breathe, running into hospital,” Avital says.
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The girl ended up in intensive care.
“They go red, and from red they go blue, sometimes they go a bit black, and for a moment there you think they go dead in your hands, they flop. A lot of suffering for a tiny little cute thing that you love so much.”
She says she was offered a vaccine at week 28 of her pregnancy.
“Being the healthy, fit, organic woman that I am I said, ‘leave me alone,’” Avital says, a decision she now regrets.
“If I could turn back time I would have protect myself. So, that’s my message.”
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The anti-vaccination movement has been blamed for an upswing in some preventable illnesses once largely considered eradicated.
In November 2015, Canada saw an outbreak of whooping cough cases, with at least 44 cases in Manitoba alone. Officials urged parents to make sure both their children’s vaccinations, along with their own, are up to date.
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There are between 1,000 and 3,000 cases of whooping cough in Canada every year, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. It is a highly-contagious respiratory tract infection. Without treatment it can last for weeks or months and can cause brain damage or even death.
It is most dangerous to children under the age of one, the agency states, with an increased risk to those who are not vaccinated or under-vaccinated.
Symptoms can include coughing, choking, loss of appetite and difficulty breathing. Vomiting, weight loss, pneumonia and convulsions are some complications for affected infants.
It is urgent to seek medical care for whooping cough, and adults with the illness should avoid contact with young children.