Mother reveals the terrifying moment she realised her baby had whooping cough
Poppy's condition was missed three times because her chest appeared clearAfter a doctor detected the 'whooping' sound she was rushed to hospital, where she was diagnosed with a collapsed lungShe suffered from water retention, which made her body double in sizePoppy is finally on the road to recovery



17:50 GMT, 30 November 2012


Fighting: Poppy Webber pictured in hospital being treated for whooping cough

Fighting: Poppy Webber pictured in hospital being treated for whooping cough

A new mother told of the terrifying moment she took her two-week-old baby to doctors with a chest infection to be told the youngster had whooping cough.

Aimee Webber, 26, took her daughter Poppy to Kent Elms Health Centre, in Southend, Essex three times, but the condition went undetected.

The youngster's clear chest meant medics never even considered she might be suffering from whooping cough.

It wasn't until Mrs Webber stayed in
the surgery chatting to the doctor after her third examination that the
medic picked up on the youngster's distinctive cough.

The doctor told Mrs Webber and her husband, policeman Rob, 26, to take their daughter straight to Southend University Hospital.

staff hurriedly ran tests after hearing the recognisable 'whooping'
sound and discovered to her parents dismay that one of her little lungs
had collapsed.

and fighting for her life the little youngster was unable to feed
causing shocking water retention – making her tiny body DOUBLE in size.

Today Mrs Webber warned all parents to be on guard against the killer virus as the outbreak of a new whooping cough epidemic was confirmed.

She said: 'We brought her home from the hospital after she was born and the whole family had colds and coughs.

'So when Poppy started to develop a little cough and became a little groggy we didn't think anything of it we just thought she had caught our cold.

'I took to her the doctors for the first time when she had just turned two-weeks-old because she still sounded chested.

'When doctors checked her chest they said it was all clear, I went back a week later because nothing had improved but once again the doctor said her chest was completely clear.

'While we were chatting in the doctors surgery Poppy started to cough and the doctor just looked so alarmed – she said “I think it's whooping cough” and I just burst into tears.

Doctors realised one of Poppy's tiny lungs had collapsed after she was rushed to Southend Hospital

Doctors realised one of Poppy's tiny lungs had collapsed after she was rushed to Southend University Hospital

'In the hospital me and my husband were sat beside her and she started to make the unusual coughing noise – which we were use to by now.

'And suddenly we were surrounded by doctors and nurses who were frantic that she wasn't going to be able to breathe.

'It was terrifying because she was just under four-weeks-old and I wanted to cuddle her and tell her she's going to be OK. I was helpless.

'It was unsettling because whooping cough has only recently started reoccurring again.

'One member of staff said it was only the second case they had ever seen.
We worried because Poppy is so precious and tiny and she was brand new.

'The injection for whooping cough was released the day Poppy was submitted into hospital, if I was pregnant now I wouldn't even question having the jab.

'If you see your daughter struggling to breathe, covered in tubes, fighting for a life she's barely lived yet there is no doubt that you would want to stop that from happening.

'You never think it will be your child.'

On the mend: Poppy is now recovering according to medics

On the mend: Poppy is now recovering according to medics

Cases of whooping cough (pertussis) have soared since 2011

Cases of whooping cough (pertussis) have soared since 2011

Poppy, who was born on September 5, developed cold-like symptoms shortly after Mrs Webber gave birth.

Unaware of the deadly symptoms, Mrs Webber from Southend, Essex, continued to monitor the “cold” taking her back and forth to the doctors.

Little Poppy caught what is known as the “100 day cough” which lays undetected in the chest but can be picked up on early cold-like symptoms.

The baby, now three-months-old, is still suffering from the illness but doctors hope she will make a full recovery.

Mrs Webber, a care assistant who is currently on maternity leave, added: 'Me and Rob looked back over the video of Poppy coughing last night and you forget just how poorly she was.

'At one point her whole body was retaining so much water that it had collected to a point on her head.

'I panicked, I was unconsolable, I thought the worst – that she was going to be brain damaged.

'As the doctors moved her the water which had collected spread back through the body.

'Now she is slowly getting better, she is still coughing but she is out of the worst of it. We can only pray that she doesn't pick up any infections because her immune system is so weak.

'We just hope she'll get better and not have any long term effects.'


Whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the lungs and airways. The medical term for whooping cough is pertussis.

The condition usually begins with a persistent dry and irritating cough which progresses to intense bouts of coughing. These are followed by a distinctive 'whooping' noise. The coughing can last for around three months. Other symptoms include raised temperature and vomiting after coughing.

Whooping cough is a cyclical disease with the number of cases peaking every 3-4 years. There is currently a peak occurring.

Whooping cough is caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis, which can be passed from person to person through droplets spread by coughs and sneezes.

It can be treated successfully with antibiotics and most people make a full recovery, however measures should be taken to stop it spreading.

Children with whooping cough should be kept away from school or nursery until they have taken antibiotics for five days. The same applies to adults returning to their workplace.

Young babies under the age of six months are likely to be admitted to hospital as they are most at risk of severe complications, such as serious breathing difficulties.

They will be treated in isolation to prevent the infection spreading and will be given antibiotics into a vein through a drip (intravenously).

Source: NHS Choices