Pertussis vaccine in teens may reduce infant hospitalizations
October 21st, 2013
03:13 PM ET

Pertussis vaccine in teens may reduce infant hospitalizations

More adolescents being vaccinated for pertussis appears to result in fewer pertussis-related hospitalizations in infants, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics.

"The number of hospitalizations in 2011 we observed were 30% of  what we would have expected had there not been a vaccine," says lead study author Dr. Katherine Auger, who also specializes in pediatric hospital patient care at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. "For every 10,000 infants, we saw 3.3 pertussis hospitalizations. We expected 10.7 hospitalizations had there not been a vaccine."

The study looked at hospitalization rates, using nationwide inpatient samples, and compared it to data before and after the so-called Tdap vaccination was recommended for universal administration to adolescents in 2006.

Also known as whooping cough, pertussis is a highly contagious and often serious disease, especially in young children.  FULL POST

Whooping cough vaccine recommended for all pregnant women
October 24th, 2012
03:26 PM ET

Whooping cough vaccine recommended for all pregnant women

A federal advisory committee is recommending all pregnant women be immunized for pertussis or whooping cough.

The Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention met Wednesday and voted 14 to 0, with one abstention, to recommend health care providers begin immunizations programs for Tdap.  This is a vaccine that provides protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough).

The committee says the vaccine should be administered during each pregnancy in the late second or third trimester (27 to 36 weeks gestation), regardless of whether the patient has had Tdap in the past. If that's not possible, the mother should receive the vaccine immediately after childbirth or before leaving the hospital or birthing center.  Jennifer Liang, a member of the ACIP pertussis vaccine working group, told the committee the vaccine is very safe in all trimesters and could be given at any time during pregnancy.


July 19th, 2012
09:26 PM ET

Whooping cough cases approaching highest levels in half a century

2012 might be a record year for whooping cough in the United States if midyear trends continue.  Nearly 18,000 cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention so far this year - the highest rates in five years.

"That's more than twice as many as we had at the at the same time last year," said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC. "We may need to go back to 1959 to find a year with as many cases reported by this time so far, " she said Thursday.

Pertussis is a highly contagious illness caused by a bacterium called Bordetella pertussis. It easily spreads from person to person when people cough or sneeze. It starts out with symptoms very similar to a cold, but a week or two later, a violent cough develops. It's better known as whooping cough because of the "whooping" sound those infected make when they are violently coughing over and over again and try to inhale.

Washington has whooping cough 'epidemic'
April 4th, 2012
02:03 PM ET

Washington has whooping cough 'epidemic'

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, has reached "epidemic levels" in the state of Washington, health officials say.

As of March 31, the state had 640 cases compared to 94 cases at the same time last year. This could put Washington “on-pace to have the highest number of reported cases in decades,” according to the health department's press release.

There have not been any reported  deaths, said a spokesman for the health department. The state had two whooping cough deaths in 2010 and two in 2011.

2010 Year in Review: Blasts from the past
December 28th, 2010
12:24 PM ET

2010 Year in Review: Blasts from the past

Editor’s note: This week, The Chart is taking a closer look at the most important health stories of 2010. Each day, we'll feature buzzwords and topics that came to the forefront over the past year.

We’re closing out the first decade of the 21st century, but our technology still can’t combat some health issues that seem antiquated.

Bedbugs are among the most annoying characters of 2010 that crawled in the news and wouldn’t go away. A National Pest Management Association report declared bedbugs a rising problem in July, with calls about them going up 81 percent since 2000. FULL POST

Many factors in infectious disease uptick
November 2nd, 2010
10:56 AM ET

Many factors in infectious disease uptick

Cases of some infectious diseases that haven’t been seen in decades are making a comeback. In California there are nearly 6,000 cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, and other diseases such as measles, mumps and tuberculosis have returned. There are several reasons why these diseases are back: Some are cyclical; some have become resistant to current vaccines; some vaccines wear off so booster shots are needed; and there is the fear that some vaccines could cause other illnesses. Immigration also can be a factor, especially for tuberculosis but also for other diseases long eradicated from this country but still occurring in other parts of the world.

Listen to the full podcast:

November 1st, 2010
11:09 AM ET

Can breastfeeding prevent whooping cough?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Monday, it's Dr. Jennifer Shu, a pediatrician.

Question asked by Sara of Decatur, Georgia:

I am six months pregnant and have a couple of questions about babies who have recently died from whooping cough in California. How were they introduced to the bacteria? Can breastfeeding prevent this illness?


October 27th, 2010
06:06 PM ET

Whooping cough continues to climb in California

California is in the middle of the worst outbreak of whooping cough in 60 years.  According to the state health department, there are now 6,257 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of the disease. Ten people have died.

"Unfortunately and tragically we have had 10 deaths, all in infants under 2 years of age," said Dr. Kathleen Harriman, California Department of Public Health. Nine of the 10 infants were Hispanic and several had family members with "cough illness," according to Harriman.


'Whooping' sound is heart-wrenching
October 22nd, 2010
04:49 PM ET

'Whooping' sound is heart-wrenching

The sound of a child with pertussis, or whooping cough, is one of the most heart-wrenching and horrible sounds a parent can hear. It’s a coughing fit that leaves the patient gasping for breath, which is what gives it that “whooping” sound.

Katie Kisil’s 9-year-old-daughter, Payton, is recovering from whooping cough. “It was a constant cough,” said Kisil. “At night, she wasn’t able to sleep. She was just coughing throughout the night,” she said. Payton’s cough was so violent, that she vomited.

Her pediatrician, Dr. Marie Medawar, said although many have been vaccinated, or even if we’ve already had the disease, immunity wanes and it could be contracted again. She said anyone from age 11 on, should get a tetanus/pertusis booster shot - even parents, grandparents and pregnant women, to prevent an infant from contracting the disease.

“Because that’s the highest risk,” Medawar said. “If an infant gets whooping cough, it could be fatal,” she said.

Listen to the Kisils' story:

A tiny life lost to whooping cough
October 22nd, 2010
01:25 PM ET

A tiny life lost to whooping cough

Whooping cough is a rather mild-sounding name for a disease that can kill a baby before it’s even diagnosed.

Ten infants in California have died since the first of the year in an outbreak of whooping cough, whose proper medical name is pertussis. Many Americans think of it as a disease of the past, but nearly 6,000 cases in California  and more nationwide suggest otherwise.

Although California has had the highest number of whooping cough cases this year, other states are seeing slight increases. And Michigan has been watching a rise since the second half of 2008, which continues, according to the CDC. By Aug. 15, Michigan had seen 610 pertussis cases, compared with 902 for all of 2009 and 315 cases in 2008.

Daryl and Felicia Dube of Lancaster, South Carolina, became all-too familiar with the disease this year. Their baby son, Carter, came down with pertussis in January.


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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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