Whooping cough is causing the worst epidemic seen in the United States in more than 50 years, health officials said Thursday, and they’re calling for mass vaccination of adults.
The epidemic has killed nine babies so far and babies are by far the most vulnerable to the disease, also known as pertussis, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. The best way to protect them is to vaccinate the adults around them, and to vaccinate pregnant women so their babies are born with some immunity.
“As of today, nationwide nearly 18,000 cases have been reported to the CDC,” the CDC’s Dr. Anne Schuchat told reporters in a conference call. “That is nearly twice as many as reported last year. We may be on track for a record high pertussis rate this year,” she added.
“We may need to go back to 1959 to find as many cases. I think there may be more coming to a place near you.”
The last record year was 2010, when 27,000 cases were reported and 27 people died. In 1959, 40,000 cases were reported.
In 2008, whooping cough killed 195,000 people globally, according to the World Health Organization.
Whooping cough is caused by a bacterial infection. It gets its name from the nagging cough it causes that can make children breathless. They often gasp for air, making a distinctive whooping sound. But it’s not so serious in adults and they may not realize that a persistent cough is being caused by pertussis.
Read the rest of this NBC News story HERE.