Netherlands

Whooping Cough Cases Remain Historically Elevated, Reports RIVM

According to the latest update from the health institute RIVM, the incidence of whooping cough remains elevated, albeit showing signs of decline. Over the past fortnight, more than 1,400 individuals were diagnosed with the illness, including approximately 50 infants. These figures represent some of the highest recorded since data collection began in 1975.

As of May 12 this year, a total of 8,625 cases of whooping cough were reported, with 426 cases affecting infants. Among infants under five months old, slightly over half required hospitalization, while a quarter of those aged 6 to 11 months also needed hospital care, as stated by the RIVM.

Notably, 90% of infants under two months old had not received prenatal vaccination through their mothers. Some mothers who were vaccinated may have been premature or received the vaccination too close to childbirth for optimal effectiveness.

Prenatal vaccination offers significant protection, with a 90% to 95% efficacy rate for infants up to two months old. However, without maternal vaccination, infants remain vulnerable until they can receive their own vaccinations in the first months of life.

The overall vaccination rate in the Netherlands has seen a decline and is now approaching a critical level, falling below 90%, whereas the recommended rate is above 95%.

While no deaths from whooping cough were reported in the first half of May, earlier in the year, there were four infant fatalities in rapid succession, along with two deaths among the elderly.

Whooping cough is highly contagious and poses particular risks to infants. Episodes of severe coughing can lead to oxygen deprivation, potentially resulting in brain damage or even death. Since 1996, periodic spikes in whooping cough cases, including among adults, have been observed every two to four years.

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