2012 could be record year for whooping cough

August 1, 2012

According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, 2012 might be a record year for pertussis, with the highest number of cases reported since the 1970s.

According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, 2012 might be a record year for pertussis (whooping cough), with the highest number of cases reported since the 1970s.

Already this year more than 17,000 validated cases of pertussis have been reported to the CDC, more than double the number recorded in 2011 by this time. So far, 37 states have had increases in the disease, and outbreaks are being followed in 18 states. Ten pertussis-related deaths have been reported, most in infants younger than 3 months.

The incidence rate of pertussis is higher among infants than in all other age groups. The second highest rates are in children aged 7 through 10 years. Rates have also increased in adolescents aged 13 and 14 years, thought to be because of early waning of immunity after vaccination with the acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine.

According to the CDC, the ongoing pertussis epidemic in Washington reflects the evolving epidemiology of pertussis in the United States. Although Tdap vaccine provides excellent short-term protection, early waning of immunity may be a factor in increasing susceptibility. Nonetheless, the CDC states, vaccination remains the most effective method to prevent infection, and full implementation of vaccination recommendations for children and adults is needed to prevent infection and protect infants.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pertussis Epidemic-Washington, 2012. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6128a1.htm. Published July 20, 2012. Accessed July 27, 2012

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pertussis (Whooping Cough): Outbreaks. http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/outbreaks.html. Last updated July 25, 2012. Accessed July 27, 2012.