Whooping Cough (Pertussis)
Whooping Cough (Pertussis) Overview
Whooping cough is an infectious bacterial illness that affects the respiratory passages. First described in the 1640s, whooping cough is so named because spasms of
coughing are punctuated by a characteristic "whoop" sound when the
deeply after a coughing spell.
- Whooping cough is one of the most common vaccine-preventable diseases among children younger than 5 years
of age in the United States. It is also known as pertussis -- the "P" in the familiar DTaP combination inoculation routinely given to children and the
"p" in Tdap given to adolescents and adults.
- Despite the widespread use of vaccines, whooping cough has made a comeback in recent years. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC), prior to the introduction of the pertussis vaccine, there were an average
of 175,000 cases of whooping cough each year. This dropped off to fewer than
3,000 cases per year in the 1980s; in the U.S. alone, a total of 41,000 cases of
pertussis were reported in 2012. The CDC reports that as of Jan. 10, 2013, 49 states and Washington, D.C., reported increases in disease in 2012 compared with 2011.
- The World Health Organization estimates there were 195,000 deaths from whooping cough worldwide in 2008 and 139,382 reported cases in 2011, making this easy-to-prevent disease one of the leading causes of illness and death.
- The prevalence of whooping cough in infants and children is increasing. Most
deaths from pertussis occur among infants under 3 months of age. The incidence
rate of pertussis among infants is greater than all other age groups. The second
highest rates of whooping cough are seen in children 7 to 10 years of age.
- In June 2010, the state of California declared a whooping cough epidemic, with 4,017 cases reported
-- the largest number of cases since 1955.
- States that reported pertussis epidemics in 2012 include Washington (4,783 reported cases), Vermont (632 reported cases), Minnesota (4,433 reported cases), Wisconsin (5,923 reported cases), and Colorado (1,510 cases).
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