Australian researchers warn of new whooping cough strain

New research in Australia suggests that an increase in whooping cough cases may have resulted from a new strain of the bacteria that is resistant to the vaccines that are currently in use.

Last year, Australia experienced 38,000 diagnosed cases of whooping cough, which was the highest number of cases in the country since 1991. The scientists found that the new strain of the bacteria now accounts for 84 percent of cases of the disease, ABC Australia reports.

Lyn Gilbert, the director of the Center for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology at the Westmead Hospital in Sydney, said that the strain is breaking through the protection of administered vaccines.

"What we suspect, although it's circumstantial evidence at this stage, is that one of the reasons that there has been a significant increase in Australia and many other countries in the last few years is that this strain is not affected as much by the vaccine as the older strains were," Gilbert said, according to ABC Australia.

While experts have said that the vaccine still reduces the severity of the disease, opponents of vaccination may be tough to convince of that.

"The vaccine no longer contains the same strain of the bacteria as that which is circulating in the community," Meryl Dorey, an anti-vaccination lobbyist, said, according to ABC Australia. "In addition, the newer strain of the bacteria seems to be more virulent which is why we're seeing infants dying of whooping cough, which we haven't seen for a very long time."