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expert reaction to whooping cough situation in the UK

Scientists comment on the current Whooping Cough situation in the UK.


Prof Andrew Preston, Milner Centre for Evolution, University of Bath, said:

“The surge in cases of whooping cough continued in April, with 1888 cases notified in April, up from 1430 in March. Tragically, 3 more babies have died from the infection bringing the number of deaths during the current outbreak to 8, sadly demonstrating that Whooping cough remains a very dangerous disease for young babies.

“When the current outbreak will peak is unknown, cases have been rising steadily from towards the end of last year. Notably, each month of 2024 has seen more cases than recorded in any single month since before 2018.

“While an increase in cases had been expected, as other respiratory infections have rebounded from the very low levels observed during the pandemic, the size of the current outbreak is alarming.

“As the cases continue to rise, it indicates that circulation among the population of the causative bacterium, Bordetella pertussis, is increasing, posing even greater risk of infection. Vaccination offers protection against this disease, with whooping cough vaccination being part of the regular infant vaccine schedule, at 2, 3 and 4 months of age. Also, vaccination during pregnancy is freely available in the UK. Immunity generated in the mother passes to the unborn child and has proven effectiveness at protecting young babies during the critical period after birth when they are too young to have generated their own immunity from infant vaccination.

“Rates of vaccination of both mothers and infants have decreased over recent years, leaving more babies vulnerable to this terrible infection. The very sad news of further infant deaths from Whooping Cough highlights the current high risk of infection and have prompted the renewed plea from UKHSA regarding the need to boost vaccine uptake.”




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