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Emergence of Whooping Cough: A Worldwide Health Crisis!

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United States: The health authorities of several countries of the world are on high alert after the cases linked to whooping cough made a comeback. As the number of cases are largely seen in the UK, Australia and Europe, the experts have warned that the US might also witness increase in the cases.

It is to be noted that the infection is highly contagious and considered to be fatal, especially for people with weak immune systems – including infants, children, and elders. The disease is scientifically called pertussis. 

The countries that have been recording the increase in cases and even death are China, the Philippines, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands, as Bloomberg reported.

How whopping cough can be explained?

Bordetella pertussis, a bacteria colonizing the upper respiratory tract, results in whooping cough called by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which is caused by liberating toxins in the air.

It was whipping through children, its excessive affection wheels reaching the respectable name “100-day coughs” and the 1950s, which marked the time that a man self-prescribed deportation.

Though the disease equally wreaks havoc on people of all demographics, it has brought about the highest fatality rate among children under five years or those who are yet to acquire their recommended vaccines.

The name “whooping cough” is due to the coughing sound in the course of the coughing paroxysm, whereas the phrase “100-days cough” sums up the long span of the disease time.

In addition, pertussis has been taking the lives of young children all over the world and has done so on average every year since the statistics released by the WHO.

Initial symptoms mimic those of a common cold, making early diagnosis challenging, with severe manifestations manifesting later, including uncontrollable coughing fits.

Unimmunized adults may endure prolonged coughing spells lasting up to ten weeks.

A significant portion of infants with whooping cough require hospitalization, with fatalities occurring occasionally.

Vaccinated individuals typically exhibit milder symptoms and shorter duration of coughing episodes.

A resurgence of whooping cough has been observed in various regions worldwide.

China recorded a substantial increase in cases and deaths in the first months of 2024 compared to the previous year.

The Philippines also reported a surge in infections and fatalities within the same timeframe, Bloomberg reported.

Australia, particularly Queensland and New South Wales, witnessed a notable rise in cases.

Visual Representation for whooping cough infection | Credits: Science Source

In England, a rise in cases, including fatalities, has been documented, surpassing previous years’ figures.

European nations like Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Spain, Sweden, and Norway reported escalating pertussis cases since mid-2023. Spain, the Netherlands, and Greece experienced significant spikes in cases compared to previous years. New York reported an outbreak of whooping cough in December.

Several factors contribute to the resurgence of whooping cough, including disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic-induced measures like border closures and mask mandates initially suppressed transmission, leading to a delayed resurgence.

Missed routine vaccinations during the pandemic may have heightened vulnerability to the disease.

Limited immunity in the population also contributes to the resurgence.

Preventive measures include vaccination, which is particularly crucial for children.

Routine vaccination is recommended, with booster shots suggested every decade to maintain immunity.

Various countries have issued guidance on preventing whooping cough, emphasizing vaccination as a primary preventive measure.

Visual Representation for an individual dealing with whooping cough

Vaccine availability in the US

In the US, vaccines are available for different age groups, while the UK and China prioritize immunization for children. However, supply shortages may pose challenges to vaccination efforts in some regions.

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