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A baby in Placer County has died from pertussis, also known as whooping cough.

The child was less than 6 months old, according to county spokesperson Mike Fitch.

It wasn't clear if the baby had been immunized against the contagious disease.

Pertussis immunizations typically begin at age 2 months but full protection against the disease doesn't result until about 6 months of age, health experts say.

The symptoms of pertussis vary by age. Infants and babies may not have the cough or coughing spells that sound like a "whoop" or runny noses associated with older children. Some parents report their baby's face turns very red or purple, Fitch said.

Fitch said reported cases of pertussis began increasing in mid-2013 with the great majority of them children. The Placer County victim is the second death from the disease in California this year.

Who should get pertussis vaccinations

Pregnant women should receive a pertussis vaccine booster during the third trimester of each pregnancy, even if they received it before.

Infants should be vaccinated against pertussis as soon as possible. The first dose is routinely recommended at two months of age, but if pertussis is circulating in the community, infants can be vaccinated as young as 6 weeks of age. Young children need five doses of pertussis vaccine by kindergarten (ages 4-6).

California 7th grade students should receive the pertussis vaccine booster as required.

Adults should receive a pertussis vaccine booster, especially if they are in contact with infants or are healthcare workers who may have contact with infants or pregnant women.

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