Cases of 100-day cough have doubled in just two weeks

Cases of 100-day cough have doubled in just two weeks thumbnail

Published Jan 27, 2024, 9:51am|Updated Jan 27, 2024, 10:40am

Whooping cough infections among children have more than doubled in just two weeks in London.

The UK Health Security Agency said 42 cases were reported in the capital in the week up to January 21.

This is a rise of 147% on the figure which was reported just two weeks before.

Whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial infection which is spread through coughs and sneezes.

Repeated coughing can last up to three months, giving it the nickname the ‘100 day’ cough.

The first symptoms are similar to the common cold, but intense coughing can begin around a week later.

It can cause serious complications in young babies, who are likely to be admitted to hospital.

But one in ten babies had not received their vaccination by the age of two.

What is whooping cough?

Whooping cough is a bacterial infection of the lungs and breathing tubes, and due to its main symptom of coughing, it spreads very easily.

It can initially seem like a cold, with symptoms like a runny nose and sore throat among the first to appear.

But later, it can develop into bouts of coughing that last for several minutes – and get worse when the sufferer is trying to sleep at night.

The name comes from the gasp for breath between coughs, which can make a ‘whoop’ sound.

Young children may turn blue or grey due to difficulty breathing.

The disease can last for weeks or even months, giving it the nickname ‘the 100-day cough.

Hackney, Ealing and Lambeth were among the boroughs with the highest number of infections.

In Hackney, 25.5% of babies have still not received their six-in-one jab.

Dr Gayatri Amirthalingam, a consultant epidemiologist at UKHSA, said: ‘Before the introduction of routine immunisation, whooping cough used to affect tens of thousands of people.

‘Thanks to vaccination this has dropped dramatically but the infection hasn’t gone away completely as neither infection nor vaccination can provide life-long protection.

‘Social distancing and lockdown measures imposed across the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the spread of infections, including whooping cough.

‘As expected, we are now seeing cases of whooping cough increase again so it’s vital pregnant women ensure they get vaccinated to protect their baby.’

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