Published on 13/04/2012
A rise in whooping cough cases has prompted a warning from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) to parents to ensure their vaccinations are up to date.
Surges in the number of whooping cough cases are seen every three to four years. The latest surge began in 2011 with a total of 1,040 cases, up from 421 in 2010.
The HPA has reported that there have been 665 confirmed cases of whooping cough already this year.
According to data from the HPA, cases have been reported across all regions of England, with particular clusters in schools, universities and healthcare settings.
There has been a particular rise in whooping cough in young children- 65 cases so far this year in babies compared with 35 in a typical year. The condition can lead to serious complications and even death in young infants.
Three babies have died from whooping cough complications in England and Wales since the start of January 2012.
Whooping cough, sometimes referred to as pertussis, is an infection of the lining of the airways. It's known as whooping cough because the main symptom is a hacking cough, which is often followed by a sharp intake of breath that sounds like a 'whoop'. Whooping cough is highly infectious.
Whooping cough is included in the jab given to babies at two, three and four months of age, with a booster before school. Dr Mary Ramsay, the HPA's head of immunisation, said:
"Parents should ensure their children are up to date with their vaccinations so that they are protected at the earliest opportunity.”
The infection can be treated with a course of antibiotics but young infants may need hospital care. Parents interested in covering their child with private medical insurance should compare family health insurance policies online now.
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