New disease stages comeback across Europe

Just as the world overcame the coronavirus pandemic, a new disease, particularly hazardous to infants, has made a sudden appearance.

WORLD APRIL 7. 2024 09:11

While the Covid-19 pandemic officially ended last year, cases of pertussis — or whooping cough, as it’s more commonly known — have been spiking across Europe in recent months. In the Czech Republic, where there are reports of whooping cough vaccine shortages, case numbers are at their highest in 60 years, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). There have also been sharp rises in Denmark, Belgium, Spain and the U.K. in recent months.

„The number of infections has increased dramatically and we are on track to exceed any annual total that we’ve seen in more than three decades,”

– said Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the university of East Anglia, as quoted by the told Politico news site. To put this in perspective, in 2023, a total of 853 cases were recorded in England. In February of this year alone, there were 913 cases, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

The current European hotspot is Croatia, which reported 6,261 cases in the first two and a half months of this year, but Greece also struggles with serious problems.

A report from the British Medical Journal says that part of the reason for the spread is a drop in vaccination rates. In most European countries, babies get their first two doses of the combined whooping cough, diptheria and tetanus vaccine between 2 and 12 months, with another dose by the time they’re 2 years old and a final dose between 3 and 7.

While whooping cough can be very unpleasant for adults, pertussis can cause serious complications in babies.

According to the ECDC, teenagers between 15 and 19 make up the majority of current cases but “virtually all deaths” in the EU and EEA this year have been in babies under three months. There have been four deaths in recent weeks in the Netherlands, more than double the usual annual rate. Europe’s disease agency also suggested that Covid could be to blame for the rise, citing suboptimal vaccination uptake in certain social groups during the coronavirus pandemic.



desease, europe, whooping cough