The US has suffered the worst year for whooping cough since 1955 according to preliminary government figures.
Whooping cough rises and falls in multi-year cycles. 2012 was the worst year in five decades peaking with 41,880 cases. One of the factors as to why there were so many cases of whooping cough last year is that the vaccine that is used since the 90s doesn’t last as long as the old one. The Huffington Post reports that Dr. Tom Clark of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, “I think the numbers are going to trend up.”
Last year, 48 states had more cases of whooping cough. Colorado, Minnesota, Washington state, Wisconsin and Vermont saw high outbreaks last year as well. Even with the increase in case,s only 18 people died, including 15 infants younger than 1, from the whooping cough in 2012.
Officials say they aren’t sure why there were not more deaths but believe children were diagnosed faster and treated with antibiotics due to the attention paid to the bad outbreaks. Additionally, there was a push to vaccinate pregnant women which helps pass immunity to infants.
In 1955, there 63,000 cases of whooping cough. Clark said he believed the final count of whooping cases will be higher but unlikely to reach the amount of cases in 1955.
Whooping cough is a highly contagious disease which is most dangerous in children, but can affect anyone regardless of age. The whooping cough name comes from the sound children make as they gasp for air. Before 1940, whooping cough was very common with hundreds of thousands cases annually. Gradually the numbers of cases dropped when the vaccine came out in the 1940s.
For 25 years there were fewer than 5,000 cases reported annually in the US. But, whooping cough cases rose again in the 1990s. In 2010, whooping cough cases climbed to more than 27,000 and was dangerously high in California that year.
It takes five doses for children to be vaccinated against whooping cough. The first of the five doses begins at two months and ends with booster shots around 11 or 12 year of age. Considering the vaccine may not last as long as previously thought, health officials are considering recommending another booster shot, strengthening the vaccine or creating a new one according to Yahoo News.