CDC: Whooping cough cases may be most in 5 decades

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

ATLANTA (AP) -- Health officials say the nation is on track to have the worst year for whooping cough in more than five decades.

Nearly 18,000 cases have been reported so far -- more than twice the number seen at this point last year. At this pace, the number of whooping cough cases will surpass every year since 1959.

"There is a lot of this out there, and there may be more coming to a place near you," Dr. Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

Wisconsin and Washington state each have reported more than 3,000 cases, and high numbers have been seen in a number of other states, including New York, Minnesota, Kansas and Arizona.

Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a highly contagious bacterial disease. It leads to severe coughing that causes children to make a distinctive whooping sound as they gasp for breath. In rare cases it can be fatal, and nine children have died so far this year.

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 a booster is recommended around age 11. The vaccine's protection does wane and health officials have debated moving up the booster shot.

The CDC is urging adults and especially pregnant women to get vaccinated so they don't spread it to infants who are too young to get the vaccine.

Whooping cough used to cause hundreds of thousands of illnesses a year but cases fell after a vaccine was introduced in the 1940s. Starting in the late 1960s, fewer than 5,000 cases were reported annually in the United States, for a stretch of about 25 years. But the numbers started to rise in the 1990s.

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  • by Anonymous on Jul 19, 2012 at 02:33 PM
    The fact that most parents now are to young to remember outbreaks of serious infectious diseases, and many of their parents are too young to remember. Once histories lessons are forgotten, they tend to repeat themselves. Reality will eventually out weigh religious beliefs and unfounded fears. Get vaccinated.
    • reply
      by Stacy on Jul 19, 2012 at 05:13 PM in reply to
      Amen to that!
  • by Anon too on Jul 19, 2012 at 01:57 PM
    Before the vaccination debate begins: The formulation for the whooping cough vaccine was changed in 1997, and kids hitting age 13 and 14 now are the first to have been fully vaccinated with five doses of the new vaccine. The new formulation causes less of a reaction, but it may also wear off sooner. The older vaccine was made using a whole pertussis bacterium. It was very effective, but it did cause swelling in some kids who got it, and sometimes caused a fever -- something that scared parents. It also was widely blamed for causing rare but serious neurological reactions. So this may partially help explain why so many kids WHO HAVE BEEN IMMUNIZED are still pertussis.
  • by Skipper Location: Eau Claire on Jul 19, 2012 at 01:07 PM
    Maybe the problem is two fold. First, there are those who believe that vaccines are are evil and cause other problems. Second, there are those who come into the country that are sick and have not been vaccinated themselves. Then when you get a bunch of people together this is what happens. Kids get it first and spread it around. Maybe our immunizations should be stronger. No proof of immunizations, no entry.
    • reply
      by Anon too on Jul 19, 2012 at 04:14 PM in reply to Skipper
      Make that threefold: the vaccine formulation was changed in 1997 and is not as effective as the previous one.
  • by Scot Location: Eau Claire on Jul 19, 2012 at 10:58 AM
    But I thought vaccinations were dangerous and evil. Are you saying that whooping cough vaccinations might actually save lives? Who would have guessed?
    • reply
      by anon on Jul 19, 2012 at 12:47 PM in reply to Scot
      But parents know more than their doctors...
      • reply
        by anon on Jul 19, 2012 at 03:21 PM in reply to anon
        Parents do know more. A doctor is not God, they do make mistakes. I know I always have put my children first in every decision I make. They are the most important people in my life. I have not immunized them. They are not in the public school, so they don't have to be. They hardly ever get sick. Thank the Lord for that.
        • reply
          by Karen on Jul 19, 2012 at 04:59 PM in reply to anon
          You may put your children first, but what about the health of my children? You not vaccinating your kids can make my kids sick. They may not be in public school, but they are in our communities all the same.
        • reply
          by google eyes on Jul 19, 2012 at 05:48 PM in reply to anon
          I'm sure they'll thank you when they enter the work force and are no longer secure in your safety bubble... may be they can ride their unicorns to your house everyday for work.
    • reply
      by KW on Jul 19, 2012 at 03:24 PM in reply to Scot
      might save you, might make you very ill
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