Dozens of states across the United States have reported a staggering increase in the reported cases of whooping cough, or pertussis. Compared to the first six months of last year, so far there have been twice as many cases of whooping cough. Within this context, health experts recommend whooping cough shots.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports there have been 16,181 cases of provisional whooping cough signaled to the authority. All of these cases were reported before June 2012, giving experts a reason to worry about the steep increase compared to the same period last year. Health experts worry a full blown epidemic is on its way.
In Washington, the number of whooping cough cases has officially reached epidemic levels. Tim Church, spokesman for the state’s department of health said: “This time last year we had about 200 cases, which was a lot. So to have 2,700 this time is just the most we have seen in my life”.
Since 2012 is already shaping like a record year for whooping cough cases, health experts with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made a recommendation in favor of a pertussis vaccine. While 95 percent of the children in U.S. had their whooping cough shots, a staggering 90 percent of adults are at risk.
Stacey Martin, epidemiologist with the CDC, told MSNBC in a phone interview: “We went to safer vaccine with fewer side effects but the duration of protection is not as good”. Basically the whooping cough vaccine requires five doses in children by age 6 and another dose when they become teenagers. During adulthood the guidelines recommend at least one shot that protects against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough.
Health expert Dr. Kathryn Edwards, director of Nashville’s Vaccine Research Program at Vanderbilt University, explains the trouble is many adults don’t believe they need a vaccine against the whooping cough. “Adults get whooping cough, and they cough and cough” but they don’t go in for a checkup even when the coughing persists for weeks said Edwards.
The whooping cough, aka pertussis, is a bacterial infection that causes persistent and exhausting coughing. Kids are particularly vulnerable and only two years ago 25 babies died of pertussis, in an outbreak that affected 27,550 people.