I fear that if we keep listening to the anti-vaccine activists, pertussis will be just the first in a series of diseases that will return to plague us, causing needless suffering and anguish - Steven Salzberg


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More Evidence Explains Why Whooping Cough Cases Are Increasing

Cases of pertussis, also called whooping cough, have been climbing over the past decade and a half. The disease, which causes severe coughing for months at a time and can cause death in infants, steadily declined over several decades after a vaccine became widely used in the 1940s. Cases reached their lowest rates in the 1970s and early 1980s, with just 1,000-3,000 cases a year.

Then cases started increasing again, slowly at first, in the late 80s and especially late 90s, though still remaining below 8,000 cases a year. Then the 2000s brought back numbers not seen since the 1960s: Every year since 2003 has had at least 10,000 cases, more recently hovering in the 20,000s. The 2012 widespread…

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 More Evidence Explains Why Whooping Cough Cases Are Increasing

The verdict: waning immunity is the culprit, along with normal population growth and not having enough people immunized at the start. As adults who had immunity from childhood infections grew older, more of the population increasingly had been immunized with vaccines whose effectiveness waned over time.

About Whooping Cough

Who's afraid of the big bad cough? Whooping cough is a potentially serious disease that may start out like a regular cold. It can affect people of all ages and can be dangerous for you and your family. A whoop sound may occur between coughing fits as the patient tries to take in breaths

I thought whooping cough was wiped out in this country? Actually, high vaccination rates help keep diseases under control, but may not eliminate them. The immunity we get from whooping cough vaccines wears off over time, which is why we can get it again as adults. Whooping cough in adults may not be diagnosed because it may start very mild followed by a bad cough that people may think is just a “leftover” symptom from a cold. But adults can still pass the infection to others, even when it’s mild in them, so widespread vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and others.

Immunization Action Coalition

The Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) works to increase immunization rates and prevent disease by creating and distributing educational materials for health professionals and the public that enhance the delivery of safe and effective immunization services.

The History of Vaccines

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is an extremely contagious disease caused by the Bordetella pertussis bacterium. These bacteria produce toxins that paralyze parts of respiratory cells, leading to inflammation in the respiratory tract. The incubation period for pertussis is generally between 7-10 days long, but can last more than a month. After symptoms first appear, the disease can take anywhere from weeks to months to fully run its course.

All babies, children, and teens should get vaccinated against whooping cough as part of their regular checkups. Pregnant women need a dose in every pregnancy. Adults should also get vaccinated against whooping cough to protect themselves, their families and friends, and babies they may be in contact with. Babies and children need to be vaccinated with DTaP vaccine, and older children, teens, and adults should receive Tdap vaccine. These vaccines protect against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough).

There are vaccines for children, pre-teens, teens, and adults. The childhood vaccine is called DTaP, and the pertussis booster vaccine for adolescents and adults is called Tdap. These are combination vaccines that protect against three diseases: diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. Getting vaccinated against pertussis is especially important for families with and caregivers of new infants.


Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It is caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. Pertussis is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe. After fits of many coughs, someone with pertussis often needs to take deep breathes which result in a "whooping" sound. Pertussis most commonly affects infants and young children and can be fatal, especially in babies less than 1 year of age. The best way to protect against pertussis is immunization.

Harvard Health

Infants under 6 months of age, adolescents and adults may have a cough that lasts many weeks without the characteristic whooping sound.

Infectious Disease Advisor

Pertussis is an acute respiratory tract infection caused by Bordetella pertussis and typified by a protracted paroxysmal cough illness. B. pertussis is the sole cause of epidemic pertussis and the usual cause of sporadic pertussis. Neither the disease nor immunization provides lifetime protection. Currently, worldwide prevalence is dampened only by continuous use of immunization.


The first symptoms of whooping cough are similar to those of a common cold: •runny nose •sneezing •mild cough •low-grade fever After about 1 to 2 weeks, the dry, irritating cough evolves into coughing spells. During a coughing spell, which can last for more than a minute, the child may turn red or purple. At the end of a spell, the child may make a characteristic whooping sound when breathing in or may vomit. Between spells, the child usually feels well.


Unfortunately, most people with whooping cough are diagnosed later with the condition in the second (paroxysmal) stage of the disease. Treatment with antibiotics is recommended for anyone who has had the disease for less than three to four weeks.

Todar's Online Textbook of Bacteriology

The disease pertussis has two stages. The first stage, colonization, is an upper respiratory disease with fever, malaise and coughing, which increases in intensity over about a 10-day period. During this stage the organism can be recovered in large numbers from pharyngeal cultures, and the severity and duration of the disease can be reduced by antimicrobial treatment.


Pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial disease of the respiratory tract, caused by Bordetella pertussis. It occurs mainly in infants and young children, and is easily transmitted from person to person, mainly through droplets. The first symptoms generally appear 7–10 days after infection, and include mild fever, runny nose, and cough, which in typical cases gradually develops into a paroxysmal cough followed by whooping (hence the common name of whooping cough). In the youngest infants, the paroxysms may be followed by periods of apnoea. Pneumonia is a relatively common complication; seizures and encephalopathy occur more rarely. Untreated patients may be contagious for three weeks or more following onset of the cough. Pertussis can be prevented by immunization.

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