Will 2015 See Further Spread of Pertussis? January 5, 2015 By Caitlin Bradford Leave a Comment 2014 was a landmark year in many ways, but it sadly marked a massive resurgence of pertussis, or whooping cough. This uptick in cases was so notable in some regions that medical professionals are concerned about continued spread of the disease in 2015. Last year saw 28 of 50 states reporting higher whooping cough infection rates than the previous year, and record highs were reported in California and New Jersey due to large outbreaks. It is well known in the medical community that pertussis is cyclical, with infection rates rising and falling on a three to five year cycle. However, it is now unclear as to whether 2012 was the ‘peak’ year as previously thought. Using California as an example, the state saw just shy of 2,000 cases in 2013, but it recorded more than 10,000 in 2014. The last time that numbers this high were seen in California was in the 1940s, before widespread whooping cough vaccination took place. A recent report in the Journal of Infectious Diseases showed that pertussis bacterium (at least in the United Kingdom) seems to be changing subtly in a way that could affect immunity. The study stressed the importance of vaccination, especially for young children, but it also did note that there may be a need for changes to the vaccine sooner than expected (the pertussis vaccine, like the influenza vaccine, does need to be ‘updated’ from time to time to account for changes in the bacterium). In response to rising infection levels, the CDC and other healthcare organizations throughout the world are suggesting that mothers receive a pertussis vaccination in the third trimester of pregnancy so immunity can be passed to their newborn children. Current estimates show that only about 60% of pregnant women have received a pertussis vaccine, meaning a large segment of the newborn population will be born without protection. Studies have shown prenatal pertussis vaccination to be very effective and safe, making it a great first line of defense against what could otherwise be a deadly disease for newborns. Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease that is known for its uncontrollable, violent coughing which can make breathing difficult. It is most common among infants and young children and can be fatal, especially for babies that are less than a year old. Immunization is the best way to avoid the disease and keep yourself and any children you may come in contact with healthy. Have you taken part in prenatal vaccination? What was your experience? Comment below or on the Passport Health Facebook page and let us know!