A MAP has revealed where in England and Wales is experiencing the biggest surge in whooping cough cases.
The UK Health Security (UKHSA) figures come from medical practitioners referring suspected cases to the local authority or health protection team.
It comes as vaccination uptake is at a seven-year low, separate data show.
Figures for 2022 show an average uptake across England of 61.5 per cent, a decrease of 3.9 per cent since 2021 and 7.6 per cent from 2020.
Coverage in London is particularly low at just 41.4 per cent.
The vaccine for pregnant women was brought in in 2012 because of high disease rates in infants.
It works by causing the mother’s immune system to produce protective antibodies to the bacteria, which are then passed to her child through the placenta.
Speaking to The Sun, Dr Gayatri Amirthalingam, of the UKHSA, said the rise in cases nationally was “expected”.
“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,” they said.
“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.”
Prof Helen Bedford, an expert in child public health at University College London, added: “Whooping cough in young babies can be very serious and vaccinating their mothers in pregnancy is the only way of ensuring they are protected in the first few months”,
Globally, pertussis kills hundreds of thousands of children annually, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
WHICH AREAS ARE WORST AFFECTED?
It does not specify the ages of those suspected to have the bug.
Some 52 cases were reported across England and Wales in the week ending November 26, almost 50 per cent more than the 35 cases in the week ending October 29.
The South East is one of the hardest-hit areas in the UK within the last week – with 11 suspected cases.
The West Midlands and North West come joint second, with 9 cases each.
Yorkshire and Humber, London and Wales all reported six suspected cases – coming in third.
The North East comes in fourth with four cases, with the East of England firth with just one case.
Meanwhile, the East Midlands and the South West both reported no cases.
Whooping cough symptoms
WHOOPING cough (pertussis) is a bacterial infection of the lungs and breathing tubes.
The first signs of whooping cough are similar to colds, such as a runny nose and sore throat (a high temperature is uncommon).
After about a week, you or your child:
- will get coughing bouts that last for a few minutes and are worse at night
- may make a “whoop” sound – a gasp for breath between coughs (young babies and some adults may not “whoop”)
- may have difficulty breathing after a coughing bout and may turn blue or grey (young infants)
- may bring up a thick mucus, which can make you vomit
- may become very red in the face (more common in adults)
The cough may last for several weeks or months.