The country appears to be headed for its worst year for whooping cough in more than five decades, with the number of cases rising at an epidemic rate that experts say may be a result of the ineffectiveness of the vaccine.
Nearly 18,000 cases have been reported so far — more than twice the number seen at this point last year, stated the Centers for Disease Control.
The number for the entire year will be the highest since 1959, when 40,000 illnesses were reported. Nine children have died, and health officials called on adults — especially pregnant women and those who spend time around children — to get a booster shot as soon as possible.
Whooping cough has generally been increasing for years, but this year’s spike is startling. Health investigators are looking into the reason for this, and theories include better detection and reporting of cases, some sort of evolution in the bacteria that cause the illness, or shortcomings in the vaccine.
For prevention, The government recommends that children get vaccinated in five doses, with the first shot at age 2 months and the final one between 4 and 6 years. A booster shot is recommended around 11 or 12.