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Whooping cough outbreak spreads to very young babies

Category: Health

Published: 27th Jul 2012 11:15:04

The outbreak of whooping cough in England and Wales has spread to very young babies who are most at risk of severe complications and death, the Health Protection Agency has warned.

There were another 675 cases in June bringing the total to 2,466 for 2012 so far.

At this stage last year there had only been 311 cases.

The main symptoms are severe coughing fits which are accompanied by a "whoop" sound as children gasp for breath.

Surges in the number of whooping-cough cases are seen every three to four years. This latest outbreak began at the end of 2011.

There have been 186 cases reported in infants under three months this year compared to 72 in the same period last year.

Dr Mary Ramsay, the head of immunisation at the Health Protection Agency, said she was "very concerned" with the increase in cases.

She said: "Whooping cough can be a very serious illness, especially in the very young. In older people it can be unpleasant but does not usually lead to serious complications.

"Anyone showing signs and symptoms, which include severe coughing fits accompanied by the characteristic 'whoop' sound in young children, but as a prolonged cough in older children and adults, should visit their GP."

The Department of Health's Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation is considering ways to tackle the outbreak, such as giving teenagers a booster dose.

Vaccinations for medics working with young babies have already been recommended to protect them and prevent them from spreading the infection.

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BBC News, 2012. Whooping cough outbreak spreads to very young babies [Online] (Updated 27th Jul 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1443062/Whooping-cough-outbreak-spreads-to-very-young-babies [Accessed 1st Sep 2014]

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