SAN DIEGO — Whooping cough cases are on the rise in San Diego County, pacing faster than Los Angeles County.

Respiratory illnesses in children, like whooping cough, are overloading local hospitals. Doctors are warning families, if you or your child has a cough, do not go to gatherings this Thanksgiving.

It’s the littlest cries and coughs that can break a doctor’s heart the most.

“It’s really hard for us to see, but the good thing is that we could help them,” said Dr. Azadeh Shirazi of Sharp Rees-Stealy.

Doctors at Sharp Rees-Stealy are seeing more children with pertussis, a bacterial respiratory infection, also known as whooping cough. This father doesn’t know what his child has yet but noticed his son struggling to breathe. 

“Once we saw it was affecting respiration, that’s when we brought him here. I’m glad we did. They took his oxygen measurement. It was a little low. That’s why they did some treatment so I’m glad we dealt with it now,” father Brian Baumann said.

San Diego County has the highest number of cases in California at 61, which outpaces Los Angeles County’s 50 cases even though Los Angeles is three times larger. 

“Usually children and babies less than one year of age are most susceptible to this infection. They usually get it from family members siblings and other adults that they come into contact with,” Dr. Shirazi said.

Doctors recommend parents get their child a Tdap vaccine which can prevent tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. They also say make sure the entire family is vaccinated.

“If you’re sick and you have a cough, do not go to family gatherings this weekend,” Dr. Shirazi said.

Doctors are also seeing children with multiple infections including RSV, COVID and whooping cough at the same time.