BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Health  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Medical notes
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Friday, 29 November, 2002, 00:05 GMT
Call for whooping cough jab for adults
vaccination
Researchers say young mums could be vaccinated
Adults working or living with young children should be immunised against whooping cough to stop them passing on the disease, researchers have suggested.

The disease can be fatal for children, and the researchers suggest parents and healthcare staff could be vaccinated as a precautionary measure.

The incidence of whooping cough, or pertussis, increases in adults as the protection from childhood vaccination diminishes.

But many people do not realise adolescents and adults can have whooping cough, and the researchers want to highlight the risks.

Pre-school booster

The main symptom of the disease is prolonged coughing.


One of the things that could be done is vaccinating young mothers in order to protect the infants

Dr Wirsing von König, Researcher

A suitable vaccine is available.

Children in the UK are given the DTP vaccine, which immunises them against whooping cough as well as diphtheria and tetanus, at two, three and four months of age.

From last year, they are also given a pre-school booster around the age of four.

So far this year, there have been 332 laboratory reports of whooping cough received by the Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS), which covers England and Wales.

Just over 100 of those were in babies under three-months-old.

Protecting children

An international team of researchers, led by Dr Carl Heinz Wirsing von König of the Institut für Hygiene und Laboratoriumsmedizin, in Krefeld, Germany, carried out the study.

He said selectively immunising adults could be the answer to preventing adults passing on the disease to vulnerable children.


We know that adults in the UK sometimes infect babies and we are concerned about it

Dr Natasha Crowcroft, Public Health Laboratory Service
Dr Wirsing von König told BBC News Online: "One of the things that could be done is to think about vaccinating young mothers in order to protect the infants.

"The second thing, which is now being implemented in Germany, is to immunise people in healthcare and childcare."

Vaccination of adolescents is recommended n France, Germany, and parts of Canada.

Dr Natasha Crowcroft, a consultant epidemiologist at the PHLS, said: "We know that adults in the UK get whooping cough.

"We know that adults in the UK sometimes infect babies and we are concerned about it."

But she said experts wanted to have time to evaluate the impact of the pre-school booster on the number of whooping cough cases before they considered extending vaccination to teenagers or adults.

"There seems to be quite a lot of infections going on in primary school age children.

"We haven't really had long enough [of the pre-school booster] to see if that's going to be affected."

But she said public health experts would consider changing the vaccination regime if the evidence supported that.

Hospitalisation

In the 1970s, the UK, Germany and Sweden saw increases in the number of cases whooping cough after immunisation campaigns were stopped after a scare over the safety of the vaccine.

There were 100,000 cases of whooping cough in the UK between 1977 and 1979, including a number of deaths.

See also:

15 Oct 01 | Health
30 May 02 | England
20 Jul 00 | Health
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes