Home Health Increase in whooping cough cases and what you need to know

Increase in whooping cough cases and what you need to know

by Jonathan Kearney

New data published by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows that cases of whooping cough continue to increase with 1,319 cases confirmed in March in the UK – that’s 2,793 cases nationally since the start of the year.

Whopping cough is a cyclical disease that peaks every 3 to 5 years.  It is a bacterial infection which affects the lungs. The first signs of infection are similar to a cold, such as a runny nose and sore throat, but after about a week, the infection can develop into coughing bouts that last for a few minutes and are typically worse at night.

If anyone in your family is diagnosed with whooping cough, its important that they stay at home and do not go into work, school or nursery until 48 hours after starting antibiotics, or 3 weeks after symptoms started if they have not had antibiotics. This helps to prevent the spread of infection.

Uptake of vaccinations that protect against whooping cough have fallen in recent years across the country – both for pregnant women and the infant programme. Timely vaccination in pregnancy and in infancy are both important to protect vulnerable young babies from serious disease.

Hayley Mercer, Consultant in Health Protection for UKHSA North West, said “Vaccination remains the best defence against whooping cough before your baby is born. This will protect your newborn from becoming unwell and needing hospital care. It is then extremely important that your baby has all their vaccines on time to get the best protection against infectious diseases.

“Whooping cough can affect people of all ages but for very young babies, it can be particularly serious. This is why vaccinating pregnant women is highly effective in protecting babies from birth until they can receive their vaccines.

“Cases of suspected whooping cough have increased recently in the North West and parents can also help protect their children by remaining vigilant for signs and symptoms of whopping cough. Echck that all your children’s vaccinations are up to date. If you’re unsure, please check your child’s red book or get in touch with your GP surgery. It is never too late to be vaccinated.”

Further information about whooping cough can be found on the NHS website.