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Whooping cough case confirmed in the region

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GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ-TV) - A health warning as a case of whooping cough has been reported in the valley, prompting precaution for families throughout the region.

The disease is highly contagious and can be deadly to babies.

Zoa Barker, mother of infant with whooping cough: “She has coughing fits that sometimes last a couple minutes and she turns really red and she can't get her breath.”

After several trips to the doctor, the Mayville family found out their daughter tested positive for the respiratory infection whooping cough.

Barker was planning to have her vaccinated, but due to other health issues, chose to wait a little longer. They waited too late.

Zoa Barker: “With the antibiotics, the toxins that are released in pertussis are going to be killed and no longer, she won't be contagious anymore, but they did say that the cough could last for even a couple more months."

Officials say people with whooping cough should stay away from public places, as the disease is highly contagious.

Barker's daughter had whooping cough for several weeks before it was diagnosed. She says they've been around other kids in Grand Forks and Mayville.

Posting a message on Facebook, Barker wanted to warn families in the area.

Barker: “Inform the other moms of young children that we had been around and you know to apologize to them because, obviously if we would have known, we would've not gone around other children, we would have stayed home.”

McBride says phones for state health officials have been ringing off the hook. While Barker's family is taking preventative antibiotics, the odds of the general population getting the disease are slim.

Shawn McBride, North Dakota Department of Health: “It might have to be in close proximity within three feet of someone for more than like 10 hours a week. We would consider that close enough contact to maybe justify needing preventative medication from an exposure. Most people in everyday life aren't going to meet that criteria.”

This is the third confirmed pertussis case in the state this year.