When it comes to microbes- the whooping cough (pertussis) is a contrarian. Unlike most other pathogens- it does better in the summer than the winter. While most other infectious diseases are on the wane right now- whooping cough is whooping it up. We’ve been seeing an increase in whooping cough cases in Arizona this summer- but not enough top call it an outbreak.
Our public health interventions have focused on educational pushes to encourage folks (especially teenagers and adults) to get their “TDaP” booster (which includes the whooping cough vaccine). Whooping cough causes a severe and persistent coughing in anybody, but our biggest concern is that it can be deadly in infants who are too young to be vaccinated. In fact, more than 85% of all deaths from whooping cough are among kids less than 6 months old. That’s why we’ve also focused on our “cocooning” initiative.
Infants are usually infected with whooping cough from people who are in close contact with them like parents, siblings, grandparents, and babysitters. Because of this, we’re encouraging families and health care providers use a strategy to protect infants called “cocooning.” By immunizing everyone who comes in contact with infants, it prevents those people from getting infected and provides a cocoon of protection around the infant. Last month’s Arizona Vaccine News was dedicated specifically to whooping cough and provides more details about cocooning.