County Durham mum's whooping cough warning after daughter's 'terrifying' ordeal

Alana with partner Craig, Ellie and her younger sister Tilly
Alana with partner Craig, Ellie and her younger sister Tilly -Credit:Jam Press

A North East mum has issued a warning about whooping cough after her daughter was left "gasping for breath".

Alana Yeates, a mum-of-two, from Peterlee, County Durham, said her 14-year-old daughter Ellie became ill after catching whooping cough. She described it as the "the most terrifying thing we have ever been through".

Ellie's whooping cough symptoms started off with a sore throat, which later turned into a cough that wouldn't budge. This comes as the UK has seen a spike in whooping cough cases - more than 2,700 cases have been reported across England so far in 2024 – more than three times the number recorded in the whole of last year.

New figures from the UK Health Security Agency show there were 2,793 cases reported to the end of March, compared to 858 cases for the whole of 2023. Alana, 39, is hoping to raise awareness about whooping cough and the signs for parents to look out for.

She told What'sTheJam: "Around 4am, I woke to find Ellie gasping for breath, her lips were going blue and I thought she was going to die. The wheezing noise she was making was horrific, she couldn't breathe. It was the most terrifying thing we have ever been through.

"I felt absolutely helpless, I didn't know what to do. She could not catch her breath and I could see she was petrified. I was about to call an ambulance, when she started calming down, but it was the longest and scariest three minutes of my life. Ellie was so frightened; she was too scared to go back to sleep.

"She had seven pillows propping her up but she was still coughing continuously. She said she thought she was going to die and has never experienced anything like it in her life."

Ellie, who started getting symptoms in April, had allegedly been told it was a viral infection, that should be treated with fluids. However Alana recorded her daughter's coughs and played this for the doctors to listen to. Straight away, she was diagnosed with the infection, and was given an inhaler and antibiotics.

Alana added: "She's been unable to take part in PE at school and is missing her horse riding sessions. Ellie is usually a fit and healthy teenager, but she's too lethargic to do anything physical. Before this, I knew nothing at all about whooping cough - I honestly thought it was an illness from the past.

"I was told teenagers don't really get whooping cough, but they do. My children were vaccinated but it's highly contagious and it's the scariest thing I have ever seen my daughter go through."

Alana also had a message for other parents. She said: "I would say to parents to trust your own judgment and ask for a second opinion if you're not convinced. Having seen the cases in the news, I realise how serious it was for her and I'm so thankful she is very slowly getting better."