Infant becomes Santa Barbara County's first recorded death from whooping cough

Jan 13, 2015

California is in the middle of a whooping cough epidemic, the worst the state has seen in 70 years.

The outbreak's latest fatality was a 25-day-old baby in Santa Barbara County. It's the county's first recorded death from the disease—also called pertussis—and only the second death in California since the outbreak started last year.

Doctor Charity Thoman is with the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department and says deaths from the disease are preventable because there is a vaccine. She hopes in the wake of this tragic death that people will work to keep the disease from taking any more victims.

"I hope they use this information to make sure that they have their booster shot, to make sure that all their kids are up to date on their booster shots, and importantly for infants, to make sure that anyone coming into contact with an infant--favorite uncle, baby sitter, nursery provider--they all have their booster shots against pertussis," said Thoman.

San Luis Obispo and Monterey Counties are not yet seeing record numbers, but total cases for this current outbreak far exceed those reported over the past few years.