Whooping cough down after record year

Feb. 20, 2013 at 12:23 AM
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LONDON, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- The number of confirmed cases of whooping cough in England and Wales last year was almost 10 times higher than cases reported in 2011, health officials said.

Officials at Britain's Health Protection Agency said last year there were 9,741 confirmed cases of whooping cough in England and Wales, compared to 1,119 cases in 2011.

Dr. Mary Ramsay, head of immunization at the HPA, said the December figures showed a decrease for the second month running in cases of whooping cough with 832 confirmed cases reported compared with 1,168 cases in November 2012.

An infant with laboratory confirmed whooping cough died in December bringing the last year's total number of deaths in babies under 3 months to 14, the HPA said.

Since the peak in October, December figures showed another decrease in the overall number of whooping cough cases, but at this time of year there is usually a reduction in cases, Ramsay said.

"It is very encouraging to see that 55 percent of pregnant women delivering in December in England had accepted the offer of a vaccination against whooping cough. We would like to remind pregnant women how serious this infection can be in young babies and how it can in some cases cause death," Ramsay said.

"Vaccinating women between 28 to 38 weeks of pregnancy should offer babies protection against whooping cough in the first few months of life, before they receive their own vaccines."

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