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Friday, July 20th, 2012
Nine babies have died so far from an epidemic of pertussis, otherwise known as whooping cough, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced. The epidemic, which has been building over recent months, is now the worst the nation has seen in more than half a century, and the CDC is urging adults to be vaccinated to stem the tide of the bacterial disease. NBCNews.com has more:
The epidemic has killed nine babies so far and babies are by far the most vulnerable to the disease, also known as pertussis, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. The best way to protect them is to vaccinate the adults around them, and to vaccinate pregnant women so their babies are born with some immunity.
“As of today, nationwide nearly 18,000 cases have been reported to the CDC,” the CDC’s Dr. Anne Schuchat told reporters in a conference call. “That is nearly twice as many as reported last year. We may be on track for a record high pertussis rate this year,” she added.
“We may need to go back to 1959 to find as many cases. I think there may be more coming to a place near you.”
The last record year was 2010, when 27,000 cases were reported and 27 people died. In 1959, 40,000 cases were reported.
In 2008, whooping cough killed 195,000 people globally, according to the World Health Organization.
Image: Sick child, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, July 12th, 2012
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning parents that this year might be record-setting for how many American children are infected with pertussis, or whooping cough. Both adults and children are urged to make sure their vaccinations are up to date to avoid the disease. From MSNBC.com:
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a bacterial infection best known for causing a deep cough in children. They cough so long and so hard that when they can finally catch a breath, they make a distinctive “whoop” sound on the intake. So far this year, the United States has seen more than 16,000 validated cases of whooping cough, said Stacey Martin, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That’s more than the 15,216 cases reported last year. The latest peak was 27,550 cases in 2010, when it killed 27 people, 25 of them babies.
“We are on track to have a record year, I think,” Martin said in a telephone interview.
Image: Child coughing, via Shutterstock.
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Monday, April 9th, 2012
Late last month, the number of pertussis infections–known as “whooping cough”–reached such a high level in Washington state that health officials have declared an “epidemic,” CNN.com reports. Though there have been no deaths reported so far, tere were 640 cases so far in 2012, compared with just 94 cases in the state by this time last year. From CNN:
The disease is preventable through a vaccine, which is given to children through a series of five injections from 2 months to 4 or 6 years of age. Whooping cough is most serious in infants, especially when they’re too young to get vaccinated or aren’t fully protected yet.
Even after all five shots, the childhood vaccine doesn’t protect you for life. Booster shots are recommended after age 11 and every 10 years during adulthood through the Tdap vaccine, which also protects against tetanus and diphtheria. Health officials recommend anyone with close contact with babies to get up-to-date with their shots.
However, some parents choose to not vaccinate their children or, in other cases, vaccinated people lose their immunity because the vaccine has worn off.
Washington health officials have started airing a public service announcement that features a mother who lost her baby to whooping cough last year. The PSA can be heard here.
Image: Baby receiving vaccine, via Shutterstock.
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Wednesday, September 28th, 2011
Grandparents, or anyone over age 65 who is caring for a new baby, should receive the vaccine for pertussis, or whooping cough, the American Academy of Pediatrics announced Tuesday in a new recommendation. The Boston Globe’s Daily Dose blog has more:
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The policy statement issued by the Academy recommends that anyone over age 65 who is caring for a baby receive the tetanus-diptheria-acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine. They already had the recommendation in place for parents of babies who hadn’t yet received Tdap, which was approved for use in 2005.
In fact, some hospitals in the local area offer the immunization to new parents before they head home with their newborn. Babies don’t receive their first diptheria-pertussis-tetanus (DPT) vaccine until two months of age and aren’t fully immunized until six months.
Pertussis has been a growing problem in the U.S. with 27,550 cases reported last year, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. California had the worst outbreak since 1947 with 9,143 cases and 10 infant deaths. (Mass. had fewer than 500 cases last year.)
Tuesday, September 20th, 2011
The vaccine against the bacterial illness pertussis, commonly known as “whooping cough,” fades after just 3 years, a new, preliminary study has found.
The study was presented at the American Society for Microbiology conference, and, if the results are replicated in future research, could have consequences for how often pediatricians recommend vaccinating babies and children against pertussis.
The Associated Press reports:
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The study was done in California, where whooping cough vaccinations are a hot-button issue. The state had a huge spike in whooping cough cases last year, during which more than 9,100 people fell ill and 10 babies died. California schools have turned away thousands of middle and high school students this fall who haven’t gotten their booster shot.
Government health officials recommend that children get vaccinated against whooping cough in five doses, with the first shot at age 2 months and the final one between 4 and 6 years. Then youngsters are supposed to get a booster shot around 11 or 12. That means a gap of five to eight years.
Witt’s study looked at roughly 15,000 children in Marin County, Calif., including 132 who got whooping cough last year. He found that youngsters who had gone three years or more since the last of their five original shots were as much as 20 times more likely to become infected than children who had been more recently vaccinated. The largest number of cases was in children 8 to 12 years old.
Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a highly contagious bacterial disease that in rare cases can be fatal. It leads to severe coughing that causes children to make a distinctive whooping sound as they gasp for breath.