Whooping cough quadruples in the Ebro region between January and April

Whooping cough quadruples in the Ebro region between January and April

Pertussis cases in the Terres de l’Ebre health region have increased by almost four since the beginning of the year. In 2023, a total of 11 cases were diagnosed, and 40 cases have already been counted this year between January and April, according to data provided by Catalonia’s epidemiological surveillance service. In 2022 there were no cases. The Ministry of Health indicates that whooping cough is not a serious disease and that current treatment is effective.

Whooping cough is a highly contagious disease caused by bacteria that is characterized by bouts of whooping cough that can last for weeks or even months. Initial symptoms are similar to those of the common cold and include a runny nose, mild fever, and a mild cough. After a week or two, the cough becomes more severe and persistent, with bouts that may cause vomiting, extreme fatigue, or choking. This disease is especially dangerous for infants and young children, because it can lead to serious complications such as pneumonia.

Despite the increase this year, the Terres de l’Ebre health region is the one that during these four months has recorded a lower infection rate (22 cases per 100,000 inhabitants) than other Catalan regions. In central Catalonia, this rate is 188, in Lleida 120 and in Tarragona 117. The increase in cases is not an isolated Catalan phenomenon but affects all European countries. In the European Union, cases have multiplied by 10, with cases particularly among minors aged 10 to 14 years.

The Public Health Agency, the state public body responsible, among other functions, for epidemiological surveillance, attributes this increase in whooping cough in the Ebro region and in Catalonia in general to a new epidemic wave that recurs every three or five years. .

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In Terres de l’Ebre, during the COVID-19 years, cases of whooping cough dropped to zero and were reported again last year, possibly due to the loss of population immunization. In this sense, experts point out that the best way to prevent this disease is vaccination. The pertussis vaccine is included in the vaccination schedule for children at 2, 4 and 11 months of age and at 6 years of age. It also includes pregnant women, between 27 and 32 weeks of pregnancy.

In the face of an increase in whooping cough cases in 2024, the European Union particularly recommends vaccination during pregnancy to contain the spread of the disease and protect groups most at risk, especially children. This procedure is necessary to transfer antibodies to babies and protect them in the first months of life when they are most vulnerable.

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