Whooping Cough is making a comeback!
The CDC reports 18,000 cases so far for 2012. These numbers put us on track to attain levels not seen in decades. So far, the majority of the cases seem to stem from the Northwest part of the country. Washington State has declared an epidemic. Most of the fatal cases have been infants who are not yet old enough to be vaccinated. The troubling thing about this Pertussis outbreak is that no one seems quite sure why? This CNN article indicated a high rate of incidence among 13- to 14-year-old adolescents. By this age immunity should be established. Typically the final childhood booster is given between the age of 11 and 12. Are we perhaps looking at a new strain? Is a new vaccine needed? These questions were not directly addressed. Regardless, we need to do all that we can to stem the spread of Whooping Cough.
Let’s all be sure that we and our loved ones are up-to-date with the proper vaccines. The article noted that for 2010 “only 8% of adults had any history of receiving a Tdap booster.” Clinicians also need to consider testing for Pertussis in patients presenting with a persistent cough. With due diligence and increased vigilance, we can whip whooping cough back into its hole!