The United Kingdom is currently experiencing a significant increase in whooping cough cases, with a reported 250% rise compared to the previous year. Data indicates that there were 716 cases of this highly contagious respiratory infection, known medically as pertussis, from July to November.
This is a substantial increase from the 217 cases recorded during the same period in 2022. Dr. Gayatri Amirthalingam from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) spoke to The Sun, explaining that this surge in whooping cough cases was anticipated. The social distancing and lockdown measures implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic greatly reduced the transmission of various infections, including whooping cough, reports the Mirror.
However, with the easing of these restrictions, an increase in cases was expected. Dr. Amirthalingam emphasized the importance of vaccination for pregnant women to protect their babies. Professor Helen Bedford, a specialist in child public health at University College London, highlighted the severe risk whooping cough poses to young babies. She stressed that vaccinating mothers during pregnancy is crucial for protecting infants in their first few months.
Whooping cough is a bacterial lung infection that spreads easily and can lead to severe health issues. Babies and children need to be vaccinated against it. The infection often leads to bouts of coughing, which are more severe at night and may be accompanied by a distinctive “whoop” sound as the patient gasps for breath between coughs. This symptom may not be present in young babies and some adults.
Patients may also experience difficulty breathing after coughing, turn blue or grey, and bring up thick mucus, leading to vomiting. The NHS advises that individuals, particularly those with babies under six months exhibiting symptoms of whooping cough, should seek urgent medical attention. It’s also recommended to contact health services if there’s been exposure to whooping cough during pregnancy or in cases of weakened immune systems.