Seventh infant death in California whooping cough outbreak

A seventh infant has died as a result of California's whooping cough epidemic, which officials have said could be the worst outbreak in 50 years.

A four-week-old baby died at San Diego's Rady Children's Hospital on Tuesday, Ben Metcalf, a hospital spokesman, told The child's death was the first whooping cough-related death in the county since 2001.

No other information on the child was available because the child's relatives did not consent to releasing identifying information, Metcalf said.

For the current year, 266 whooping cough cases have been reported in San Diego County. More than 1,500 cases have been confirmed statewide, according to the state Department of Public Health. At this point last year, only 304 cases had been reported statewide.

Additionally, seven infant deaths have been confirmed this year as a result of whooping coughs. Three of the infant deaths occurred in Los Angeles County. There were three infant deaths from whooping cough in all of 2009, with one each in Los Angeles, Kern and San Bernardino counties, reports.

To combat the epidemic, California public health officials expanded whooping cough vaccination recommendations earlier this month to include children under the age of seven, adults over 64 and women before, during and immediately after pregnancy. Anyone who may come into contact with pregnant women or infants has also been encouraged to get vaccinated.