The '100 day cough' returns with vengeance as cases soar in a week

Whooping cough can sometimes be very serious (Alamy/PA)
Whooping cough can sometimes be very serious -Credit:Alamy/PA

Cases of the '100-day cough' - or whooping cough - have seen an alarming 40 per cent increase in just a week, according to troubling new health metrics. England and Wales are witnessing a surge in the illness, with 824 Britons having the disease confirmed in the week up to 14th April, marking a sharp rise from 595 cases recorded the previous week.

The South West and South East are currently witnessing the highest rates of infection, as per information from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA). Pertussis, official name for whooping cough, generally affects infants and young kids and is distinguished by a distinctive whooping sound during coughing, reports Wales Online.

In the initial two months of 2024 alone, a staggering 1,468 cases were affirmed - a significance increase of 71% more than the spread throughout the same period last year (858 cases). The last time the disease was at such a high prevalence was in 2016 when close to 6,000 cases were reported across England.

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This news arrives as doctors stress on the importance of parents ensuring their children receive a vital jab. A vaccine against this bacterial disease is available both for infants and pregnant women.

Dr Gayatri Amirthalingam, a consultant epidemiologist at UKHSA, remarked: "Whooping cough can affect people of all ages but for very young infants, it can be particularly serious. However, vaccinating pregnant women is highly effective in protecting babies from birth until they can receive their own vaccines."

"Parents can also help protect their children by ensuring they receive their vaccines at the right time or catching up as soon as possible if they have missed any. If you're unsure, please check your child's red book or get in touch with your GP surgery."

According to NHS guidance, whooping cough often begins with symptoms mirroring a common cold, such as a runny nose and sore throat, with a high temperature being less common. Roughly one week later, individuals may exhibit the following symptoms, but could linger on for weeks and months:

  • will get coughing bouts that last for a few minutes and are worse at night

  • may make a "whoop" sound – a gasp for breath between coughs (young babies and some adults may not "whoop")

  • may have difficulty breathing after a coughing bout and may turn blue or grey (young infants)

  • may bring up a thick mucus, which can make you vomit

  • may become very red in the face (more common in adults)