The Health Protection Agency (HPA) have warned that over the past year, cases of whooping cough have more than doubled to over 1,000.
Whooping cough is characterised by severe coughing fits which are often followed by a ‘whooping’ sound in child patients. Whilst it can be an unpleasant illness for adults, it can be serious and can cause complications in young children. It can sometimes lead to hospitalisation and death.
The disease is highly infectious and can spread quickly, although a course of antibiotics can be prescribed to help prevent the spread of the infection.
The HPA indicated that the rise in the number of cases had mainly been seen in people between the age of 15 and 40.
Babies are usually started on a vaccine for the illness from the age of 2, 3 and 4 months. The HPA are urging parents to ensure that their children are up-to-date with all of their vaccinations.
Dr Mary Ramsay from the HPA indicated that the uptake of the whooping cough vaccine is very good, but warned that one case of the disease can spread rapidly. Babies under the age of 4 months are not fully protected by the vaccine and older children should receive the pre-school booster to prevent them passing the disease on to young babies.
Those who receive all of the necessary doses of the vaccine should build up and retain a high level of immunity to the disease.