This is much more serious than the common cold
It’s that time of year where it feels like everyone has got some sort of cough or sniffle. Whether you’re at school, in the office or at home, the sounds of coughing and the blowing of noses are probably soundtracking a lot of your day.
But medics have warned about a highly contagious cough that is seeing a significant increase in infections and is much more serious than your everyday cold.
The sickness is being referred to as the ‘100-day cough’ but can also be defined as whooping cough, which you may have already heard of particularly if you’re a parent.
This bacterial infection affects both the lungs and the throat of the patient, meaning that infant vaccination against it is absolutely imperative.
There have been 716 reported cases of the infection reported in the last five months, three times the number during the same period in 2022.
The five main symptoms of whooping cough are:
- Coughing bouts lasting for a few minutes and are worse at night
- Coughs that make a “whoop” sound – a gasp for breath between coughs
- Difficulty breathing after coughs, which could lead to turning blue or grey in young infants
- Bringing up a thick mucus, which can lead to vomiting
- Turning very red in the face
These signs and symptoms can take seven to 10 days to show and are usually mild at first, meaning they can often be mistaken for a common cold.
The rise is thought to be down to a drop in vaccination rates.
Dr Gayatri Amirthalingam from the UK Health Security Agency told The Sun that whilst the seasonal rise in cases was “expected”, it is “vital pregnant women ensure they get vaccinated to protect their baby.”
Professor Helen Bedford, an expert in child public health at University College London, echoed this sentiment, saying: “Whooping Cough in young babies can be very serious and vaccinating their mothers in pregnancy is the only way of ensuring they are protected in the first few months.”
And the latest warning has been issued by Prof Beate Kampmann, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who told The Sun: “The rise in cases might be because of missed vaccination appointments, possibly during the pandemic.
“Severe disease is almost entirely preventable if the mother is vaccinated in pregnancy and her protective antibody reach the baby through the placenta and protect until the baby gets its own vaccines.
“It is therefore important that everyone looks at their vaccination records to check if they might have missed this vaccine, which is given with the routine childhood immunisations and in pregnancy.”
The NHS advises people see their GP if they or their child have the symptoms of whooping cough, or have had a cough for more than three weeks that is getting worse.
If you or your child are having significant breathing difficulties, fits or signs of pneumonia call 999 or go to your nearest A&E.
Children under six months and people with severe symptoms will normally be admitted to hospital for treatment.
For more information about whooping cough, you can visit the NHS website here.