Whooping Cough Spreading Among Unvaccinated Children in Czech Republic

Experts say the infection is most risky for young children who have not yet completed their vaccination. Credit: Freepik.

Prague, Oct 20 (CTK) – Outbreaks of the highly contagious whooping cough (pertussis) have been detected among unvaccinated children in the Czech Republic, including those in school age. 127 cases have been reported this year up to the end of September, twice as many as last year, the State Health Institute (SZU) said in a press release today.

Experts say the infection is most risky for young children who have not yet completed their vaccination, which is compulsory in the Czech Republic and is also required for admission to kindergarten.

The disease is also spreading more widely in other European countries, the SZU said.

“The vaccination against pertussis is one of the compulsory vaccines. So the development suggests that the disease is thriving largely among people who refuse the vaccine,” SZU director Barbora Mackova said, adding that the parents who are in doubt about vaccination should consult a paediatrician.

During the COVID-19 epidemic, droplet infections, including whooping cough, were spreading less. The number of cases now is so far lower than in the years before the coronavirus epidemic, but experts expect a further increase. There were 127 cases from January to the end of September in the Czech Republic, compared with 67 last year and 39 the year before.

Experts say previous rises in the disease incidence always resulted in increased morbidity in young children, including hospitalisations. They are also threatened by the increased pressure in the lungs with a subsequent risk of heart failure caused by whooping cough.

“The most frequent source of illness for the youngest children is their surroundings, ie. siblings, parents, grandparents and other adolescents and adults,” said Katerina Fabianova, deputy head of SZU’s Department of Infectious Diseases Epidemiology.

The whooping cough vaccination is part of the so-called hexavaccine, which is given to young children. Immunity gradually decreases after vaccination, so children are re-vaccinated at the age of ten or eleven. Experts say that further vaccination in adult age is also advisable.

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