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Whooping cough kills 10th baby in Calif.

October 20, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A 6-week-old baby in San Diego died last week from whooping cough. The child was the tenth newborn to die from the disease this year in California.The highly contagious illness has symptoms similar to the common cold, but a persistent cough that lasts weeks may indicate the illness, which is also known as pertussis. More than 5,270 people have been infected in California.

All the babies who have died this year were too young to be fully immunized, so health officials are urging parents and caretakers to get booster shots to create a cocoon of immunity around vulnerable children.

Whooping cough typically starts with a cough and runny nose for up to two weeks. It is followed by weeks to months of rapid coughing fits.

The illness is treatable with antibiotics.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.