Riverside County Infant Dies from Whooping Cough, First in State This Year

According to the California Department of Public Health, the 6-month-old tot had not been vaccinated for whooping cough, also known as pertussis.

Photo author: Stethoscopes /  From: Wikimedia Commons
Photo author: Stethoscopes / From: Wikimedia Commons

Editor's Note:  This story originally stated that the child who died was 6-months-old.  

The Riverside County Department of Public Health says the baby was just 2-months-old, though the state had said they were older.

The child was not identified, though county health department Communicable Diseases Specialist Barbara Cole confirmed the infant was from the southwest county area.


A Riverside County child died of complications related to whopping cough, in the first known fatal case in the state this year, health officials said Friday.

According to the County Department of Public Health, the 2-month-old tot had not been vaccinated for whooping cough, also known as pertussis, and apparently the infant's mother had not received a booster shot while she was pregnant.  

"This serves as a sad reminder that illnesses like whooping cough are still very much with us, and immunizations are the first line of defense," said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, public health officer for Riverside County. "We strongly encourage pregnant women to get vaccinated, all parents to vaccinate their children on time, and for adults to keep current with their booster shots to reduce the spread of the disease."

Pertussis vaccinations can begin when a child is as young as 2 months old, health officials said.

California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ron Chapman said pregnant mothers can get a pertussis booster by their third trimester.

"Preventing deaths in infants by ensuring that all pregnant women get vaccinated is our primary goal in pertussis control," Chapman said. "When pregnant women are vaccinated, the immunity they develop against pertussis is passed to their infants and helps protect infants until they are old enough to be vaccinated themselves. Young infants are at the greatest risk of severe or fatal pertussis."

Health officials noted that whooping cough cases had moderated since peaking in 2010, when 9,100 cases and 10 deaths were reported in California. However, the number of infections began to surge again last summer, and 83 percent of those with symptoms were youths under 18 -- 12 percent of whom were infants less than 6 months old, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Officials said children need five doses of pertussis vaccine before they reach kindergarten, while adults should be inoculated if they're in regular contact with toddlers or are healthcare workers.

Pertussis usually starts with flu-like symptoms, such as runny nose, sneezing, fever and a mild cough. The symptoms may be mild and brief, or last for weeks, and are often followed by severe coughing fits.

In children, coughing spells end with a whooping sound. However, infants may not reveal the typical symptoms but instead turn red or purple from hampered breathing, according to health officials.

– City News Service.

kristin c February 09, 2014 at 01:04 PM
Over vaccination in dogs is linked to auto immune disease. In the last decade, it has been recommended that dogs be vaccinated every 3 years instead of every year. In cats, there is a malignant tumor that arises in the spot the vaccine was given .. if you've ever seen your vet give a vaccine under the skin in the leg, that's why. It allows for amputation of the limb should one of these tumors pop up. Also it isn't even recommended that puppies receive their first vaccine until 6 weeks of age yet the first vaccine in a human is the day their born.
kristin c February 09, 2014 at 01:53 PM
Tired, not true about anti vacciners and global warming.. the left wingers who support global the warming lie are the ones who drink their kool aid and do everything the government tells them to do.
James Lauerman February 09, 2014 at 03:42 PM
carol elder February 09, 2014 at 05:13 PM
The baby was 6 months old. Still don't know enough to blame anyone. Even if I did, it's not our job to blame. All in all it's a death and that's terrible.
AmandaML February 09, 2014 at 05:19 PM
Carol, if you read the editors note at the top if the article you'll see the baby was actually two months old.


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