A baby in California has died after contracting whooping cough, officials said, marking the first such death in Orange County in more than a decade. A news release posted on Thursday by the county’s health officials did not identify the child, or list the baby’s age.
“We are deeply saddened by this loss of life and send our condolences to the family,” Dr. Nichole Quick, interim county health officer, said in the news release.
The health department counted 171 cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, in 2018, including eight cases involving infants under three months. Seven of those children required hospitalization. The illness is a very contagious disease that spreads through coughing or sneezing, but it can take up to three weeks for symptoms to appear. Late-stage symptoms may include rapid coughing followed by a high-pitched “whoop” sound, vomiting and exhaustion.
“The best way to prevent pertussis is to be up-to-date on vaccinations,” Quick said. “Children should receive five doses of DTaP as part of their routine vaccination schedule starting at two months of age. Pregnant women during each pregnancy, regardless of when their previous pregnancy occurred, are strongly recommended to receive Tdap vaccine during their third trimester. Vaccination during this time stimulates production of maternal antibodies that are passed on to the infant, offering protection to the baby against pertussis during the first few months of life.”