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Steep Rise In Cases of Whooping Cough In The Czech Republic

Prague, March 4 (CTK) – Last week, 449 cases of highly contagious whooping cough (pertussis) were reported in the Czech Republic, making a total of 1,666 cases since the beginning of this year, more than in the past four years combined, according to the State Health Institute (SZU).

This is already higher than any yearly total in the past 20 years, except 2014, which saw over 2,500 people infected with pertussis.

The whooping cough vaccine is part of the compulsory vaccination of babies, as the disease mainly threatens the youngest children.

“The highest number of cases and the highest sickness rates are in the 15 to 19 age group,” said SZU. They account for almost one-third of cases, according to the data.

However, the cases of whooping cough include all age categories, from babies to seniors aged 96, with a median age of 35.

“In children under one year of age, 36 cases of the disease have already been reported in 2024,” added SZU.

Vaccination against pertussis started in Czechoslovakia in 1958.

Between 1984 and 2004, no one in the Czech Republic died from the disease. Since 2004, doctors have recorded four deaths of unvaccinated infants, and one senior died of pertussis in 2014, according to the SZU.

Regionally, the highest number of whooping cough cases are currently in the South Bohemia (357), Central Bohemia (258) and Vysocina (253) regions, while the lowest number of cases are in the Plzen and Karlovy Vary regions. The Zlin Region saw the highest rise in pertussis incidence in a week, with the number of cases more than doubling, according to SZU.

Whooping cough vaccination is part of the so-called hexavaccine 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.

Peter Sebo, from the Institute of Microbiology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, said that the main reason for the spread of whooping cough now is that children who had received new vaccines that were less effective than the previous vaccines are now in their teens. Another reason is that more people in the Czech population are unvaccinated than in the past.

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