Infants too young to be vaccinated are most at risk for whooping cough
Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images.
The number of cases of whooping cough reported in the United States this year is on pace to be the highest in more than half a century, health officials announced Thursday.
The Associated Press reports that upwards of 18,000 cases have been reported so far this year, nearly twice as many as the same period last year. At this rate, the year’s total will surpass every year since 1959, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention projects.
Wisconsin and Washington state have each reported more than 3,000 cases, and Minnesota, Kansas, New York, and Arkansas have also seen an abnormally high number of diagnoses.
The rising occurrences of whooping cough is being attributed to the “cyclical nature of the disease,” according to Reuters. Other factors are families who opt not to vaccinate their children, or teens and adults who haven’t been immunized catch it, ignore it, and pass it on.
Pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial disease nicknamed for the distinctive “whooping” noise children make when gasping between coughs. While rates are not nearly as high as they were before the vaccine was introduced in the 1940s, the frequency of cases has been on the rise since the 1990s. In rare cases, it can be fatal. Nine children have died from it so far this year
Infants who haven’t been immunized are most at risk. The first of five shots for the immunization vaccine is given at two months, and the last is typically between age 4 and 6.