Whooping Cough Cases Reach Epidemic Levels in Some States

Whooping cough vaccine from the 1990s is weakening.
Whooping cough vaccine from the 1990s is weakening.
The number of whooping cough cases is on the rise in U.S. The condition, known for its rough sounding cough, is causing concern in many states where the number of whooping cough cases is at epidemic levels.

The breakdown of the numbers

During 2012, increased pertussis cases or outbreaks were reported in a majority of states. As of January 10, 2013, 49 states and Washington, D.C. reported increases in disease in 2012 compared with 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Health officials are now considering the creation of booster shot guidelines and are currently advising children age 10 and over to get a booster. Adults are also being urged to get the updated booster, especially daycare workers and schoolteachers who have frequent contact with children.

Minnesota one of the hardest hit

Minnesota is battling one the of highest rates of whooping cough with 4,300 cases reported, the highest number since World War II. Health officials say the disease moves in waves, with outbreaks every two or three years that cause concern.

The Minnesota Health Department says the vaccine, which rolled out in the 1990s, is the main reason for the statewide spike in numbers.

Doctors suggest a booster shot to prevent whooping cough outbreaks.
Doctors suggest a booster shot to prevent whooping cough outbreaks.

“We have the intersection of a peak in pertussis that occurs every few years, along with a population that is not as strongly immune,” Dr. Ruth Lynfield, Minnesota’s state epidemiologist told the Star Tribune. “Immunity from this vaccine is very effective, but it is not as long-lasting,” Lynfield said. “Rather than lasting for many years, the immunity wanes. [But] the vaccine is absolutely still a great tool and parents should use it.”

Wisconsin, Vermont, Washington and North Dakota have also been hit hard, according to Center for Disease Control stats.

“The whole country is experiencing a resurgence,” Lynfield says. She is one of many experts urging people to be prepared and consider a booster shot.

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