SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2016

Whooping cough cases decrease in England

Figures released by Public Health England on Friday show that the number of whooping cough cases in England has continued to decrease in 2013.

Whooping cough is a highly contagious bacteria that spreads by infected persons coughing. Whooping cough can affect all ages, but is the most dangerous in young infants. Younger children under the age of four months are at a higher risk for severe complications and death from whopping cough, because infants do not complete the full vaccination for whooping cough until four months of age.

"Parents should also be alert to the signs and symptoms of whooping cough - which include severe coughing fits accompanied by the characteristic 'whoop' sound in young children but as a prolonged cough in older children or adults," Dr. Gayatri Amirthalingam, consultant epidemiologist for immunization at PHE, said.

Older children and adults can also experience whooping cough. For these age groups, whooping cough is unpleasant but usually does not lead to any serious complications.

Cases of whooping cough in March dropped to 434. This is down from February, which had 544, and January, which had 650. These numbers are an improvement over 2012's numbers, which saw a record 9,741 cases.

"The March figures show a welcome continued decrease in the number of whooping cough cases since October and we hope this will continue as pregnant women continue to get vaccinated," Amirthalingam said. "We also welcome and fully support the continuation of the vaccination campaign for pregnant women and we encourage all women at the recommended stage of pregnancy to get an appointment and ensure they receive their whooping cough vaccine."