Figures published by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) today show that confirmed cases of whooping cough in England and Wales have continued to decrease with 668 cases reported in January 2013, compared to 835 cases in December 2012.
This will be the third month running that cases have decreased, however numbers remain unusually high following a sustained outbreak during 2012 which saw a record 9,741 cases. Large numbers of cases continue to be reported in those aged 15 years and older with 579 cases reported in January this year compared to 170 in the same period in 2012 and 25 in 2008, which was the last peak year.
Dr. Gayatri Amirthalingam, consultant epidemiologist for immunisation at the HPA, said: “The January figures show a welcome continued decrease of whooping cough cases since October. However, it is very important to note that we usually see a reduction in cases of whooping cough at this time of year so this decrease is in line with normal seasonal patterns.
“It is very encouraging to see that almost 60 per cent of pregnant women delivering in January in England had accepted the offer of a vaccination against whooping cough. We would like to remind pregnant women how serious this infection can be in young babies. The aim of vaccinating of women between 28 and 38 weeks of pregnancy is to offer babies protection against whooping cough in the first few months of life, before they receive their own vaccines.
“It is also important for parents to ensure their children are vaccinated against whooping cough on time, even babies of women who’ve had the vaccine in pregnancy – this is to continue their baby’s protection through childhood.”