SAN BERNARDINO (CBSLA/AP) — California health officials say an infant has died from whooping cough — the first such infant death in the state since 2016.

The Department of Public Health said Tuesday that the baby was from San Bernardino County but didn’t provide any other details.

Two infants died of the disease in 2016.

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a highly contagious respiratory ailment that can spread through coughing.

Dr. Karen Smith, director of the state health department, says the latest death is especially tragic because the disease is preventable.

“This serves as a grim reminder that whooping cough is always present in our communities, and immunizations are the first line of defense,” she said in a statement.

Health officials urge expectant mothers to get a whooping cough booster shot. Parents are urged to immunize babies as soon as possible.

The symptoms of whooping cough vary by age. Young infants may not have typical whooping cough symptoms and no apparent cough, while older children may start out with a runny nose and cough for up to two weeks that can worsen in rapid coughing spells that end with a whooping sounds.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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