Pertussis (whooping cough) has re-emerged in countries with high vaccination coverage and low mortality. Although it is listed as one of the top causes of vaccine preventable deaths, reports of a global resurgence originated in countries with low mortality and high vaccination coverage. Priorities are to decrease infant mortality by improving coverage and timeliness of vaccination and implementing pertussis surveillance, but vaccinations don’t seem to be working and this is of great concern.
More recently some countries with sustained high vaccine coverage have experienced increases in pertussis, especially in older children and adults, the reasons for which are complex. The issue may stem from under diagnosis or missed diagnosis and under-reporting, which hinder surveillance, as well as gaps in our knowledge of levels of herd immunity generated by the vaccination programs.
Whooping cough is a relatively new infectious disease afflicting human beings, compared with other infectious diseases, and is undergoing a resurgence despite decades of vaccination.
One study found that the body’s response to a pertussis infection was correlated with vaccination status. There was a primary response in unvaccinated children.
Another study in the Center For Infectious Disease Dynamics showed that pertussis vaccination actually enhances the colonization Bordetella parapertussis, the bacteria that causes pertussis, and that the vaccination itself may have contributed to the observed increase in whooping cough over the last decade.
How common is whooping cough in a non-vaccinating country?