First whooping cough death since 2016 reported in California

Posted at 3:13 PM, Jul 17, 2018

The first whooping cough death of 2018 in California was confirmed Tuesday. 

The California Department of Public Health says pertussis, also known as whooping cough, was the cause of the death of a baby in San Bernardino County. 

This is the first confirmed death from pertussis since 2016, when two deaths occurred. 

Health officials say between 50 and 200 babies are hospitalized with whooping cough every year. The CDPH and the CDC says expecting mothers should get the whooping cough booster shot – known as Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis vaccine) – at the earliest possibility between 27 and 36 weeks of every pregnancy, even if the mother has already been immunized. 

These vaccines will help mothers provide the antibodies that can protect babies until they are at the appropriate age to be immunized (around six to eight weeks old). 

"This baby’s death is a tragedy for the family and for California as a community, as this is a preventable disease," said Dr. Karen Smith, CDPH director and state public health officer. "This serves as a grim reminder that whooping cough is always present in our communities and immunizations are the first line of defense."

To avoid the disease from spreading, public health officials recommend parents immunize their babies at the earliest stage, give students in the 7th grade the whooping cough booster, and adults receive a booster shot as well. 

Symptoms of whooping cough typically start with a runny nose and cough for a week or two in children, who eventually develop the whooping cough sound, but babies might not even have a cough and could suffer from difficulties breathing. CDPH says the baby’s face might turn different colors if they aren’t getting enough oxygen. For adults, whooping cough may last for several weeks before it’s diagnosed. 

Find out more at the California Department of Public Health’s website