Why the Increase in Whooping Cough Outbreaks?

By Kevin Crowe | inewsource

Yesterday, Dr. James Cherry, a globally recognized whooping cough expert, published a commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine that backs up the findings of an investigation by inewsource and KPBS into the 2010 epidemic in California.

Cherry writes the efficacy of the vaccine is playing a much larger role in whooping cough outbreaks than he originally thought. We interviewed Cherry, a specialist in pediatric infectious diseases at UCLA, in 2010 and again in 2012. Two years ago, he said the increase in whooping cough cases nationally and internationally was due mostly to better observation by physicians and better testing for the disease.

Our 2010 investigation found a majority of people in California who were diagnosed with whooping cough had been fully immunized against the disease. We recently published an update on that investigation which focused on new studies questioning the effectiveness of the vaccine.

“Certainly the major epidemics in 2005, in 2010, and now in 2012 suggest that failure of the DTaP vaccine is a matter of serious concern,” Cherry writes in the commentary published yesterday.

He also writes that, in addition to better observation and testing, the medical and scientific community “should consider the potential contribution of genetic changes in circulating strains of B. pertussis,” the bacteria that causes whooping cough.

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About Joanne Faryon:

Joanne Faryon is a freelance reporter and former inewsource and KPBS reporter.
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