A 25-day-old infant has died from pertussis — better known as whooping cough — the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department announced Tuesday. The death is the first from pertussis in Santa Barbara County and the second in the state during 2014, when public health officials saw the most reported cases of pertussis in 70 years. In the Santa Barbara, 113 cases were reported in 2014, compared to 28 in 2013. The disease is cyclical and typically peaks every three to five years. In 2010, Santa Barbara saw 66 cases.
Public Health Department spokesperson Susan Klein-Rothschild said she could not specify where in the county the death occurred, though she emphasized the importance of the pertussis vaccine. “It really brings to heart the issue of why vaccination is so important,” Klein-Rothschild said. “It protects the entire community.”
Anyone in close contact with infants, including healthcare workers and extended family members, should receive the Tdap vaccine, the health department said in a press release. This strategy of “cocooning” protects vulnerable infants. “The Tdap vaccine does wane over time,” the department said. “Thus, boosters are recommended … for adolescents and for anyone this age or older who has not yet received it.”