It’s that time of the year again, when rhinitis, the common cold and the whooping cough are making our lives a lot harder. One particular such condition, the whooping cough is causing a lot more damage than expected and it’s about to get epidemic proportions within Washington State. As data shows there are 640 cases throughout the state, it’s only a matter of time before Washington will have to deal with a whooping cough epidemic.
Otherwise known as pertussis, the whooping cough is a very contagious bacterial disease that is extremely uncomfortable for the patient. It causes violent coughing, breathing difficulties and it can affect all people, regardless of age. The nasty infection makes life miserable for about six weeks and even with most children immunized, there’s still concern of it affecting infants, young children and adolescents.
In Washington State the situation is serious. If we were to make a comparison between this year’s whooping cough cases and those of last year, the results would initiate panic. The Washington State Department of Health released such a comparison: so far, as of March 31, within the state there were 23 counties that reported 640 cases of whooping cough. Last year, in the same period, within the state there were only 94 cases reported.
Secretary of Health Mary Selecky said the department is quite concerned about the matter as the number of whooping cough in Washington continue to increase. She warned the disease is “very serious for young babies, who often get whooping cough from adults and other family members”. She recommended that “all teens and adults who haven’t had Tdap to be vaccinated to help protect babies that are too young for the vaccine”.
To make things worse, Mary Selecky also added that the number of reported cases is “probably just the tip of the iceberg. We really know in public health that this is under-reported”.
The Tdap vaccine costs $35 and although after the 2010 California outbreak, children between eight and twelve were immunized, one doctor fears the vaccine might not be as bullet proof as imagined. Dr. David Witt is an infectious disease specialist with Kaiser Medical Center In San Rafael and author of a study that suggest vaccines made during childhood will eventually wear off as kids mature. “We have a real belief that the durability is not what was imagine” he said.