The Center for Disease Control recently released information on a new strain of whooping cough. This new strain is apparently caused by a germ that is resistant to current vaccines and may explain why more people are getting sick with something that has been practically non-existent for many years.
Local, state and federal health officials are investigating a dozen or so recent cases in Philadelphia that may be the reason why the U.S. just had one of the worst years for the illness in over sixty years. This new strain has also been reported in France, Finland and Japan.
The details of the recent cases in the United States were published recently in a report from the CDC and other research facilities in the New England Journal of Medicine.
This highly contagious disease can strike persons of any age but is extremely dangerous for children. Although once quite rampant, the number of cases all but disappeared after the first vaccine was introduced in the 1940s. Recent increases in the disease were partially blamed on a version of the vaccine developed and used since the 1990s that apparently wasn’t as long-lasting. In 2012 the CDC reported over 41,000 cases that included 18 deaths from the disease.
The recent study suggested that the new strain of whooping-cough may not be more deadly but the current vaccines used just don’t seem to be as effective against it. A study from French researchers suggests that although the current vaccine seemed to lower the risk of the new strain in infants, it didn’t completely prevent them from getting sick. The new strain was first identified in France where there is more extensive routine testing done for whooping-cough. So far it is believed that the new germ accounts for 14 cases in France.
Here in the U.S., medical care providers generally use as rapid test to diagnose the disease. In general, extra lab work isn’t done frequently enough for health officials to determine how common the new strain is. The cases that were found here in the past two years were patients at a children’s hospital in Philadelphia. It is believed in both cases, the older version of the vaccine was given to both children.
The Centers for Disease Control has determined that it does need to do further research on the new strain before they can come to any conclusions. They are working with all health officials involved in order to gather more information.