A 1-month-old baby boy who died after being diagnosed with whooping cough has been identified, according to the Medical Examiner’s office.
Elias Carrillo died Tuesday evening at Rady Children's Hospital.
This is the seventh death related to whooping cough this year in California. It is first whooping cough death in San Diego since 2001. State health officials said in June that whooping cough had reached epidemic levels in California and was on pace to break a 50-year record for infections and deaths for the year.
So far this year, there have been 266 cases in San Diego. Last year, there were 143.
In most cases, infants, who are too young to be immunized, contract whooping cough from someone else -- usually either a family member or caretaker.
"I think the most important message for the community is to know there is a way to prevent whooping cough through vaccinations," said Dr. Mark Sawyer, a pediatric infectious disease specialist.
California Department of Public Health director Dr. Mark Horton said in June that children should be vaccinated against the disease and parents, caregivers and infants need a booster shot. A typical case of the disease, formally called pertussis, starts with a cough and runny nose for one to two weeks, followed by weeks to months of rapid coughing fits that sometimes end with a whooping sound. Fever is rare.