The 2012 Whooping Cough Epidemic: What You Need To Know

African mother with happy baby

African mother with happy baby

Whooping cough is causing the worst epidemic seen in the United States in more than 50 years, health officials said Thursday, and they’re calling for mass vaccination of adults. The CDC recently announced that there are more cases of whooping cough than they’ve seen in five decades.

Why is it happening and what can you do to protect yourself and your family from this highly contagious illness?

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 What the latest news on this disease?

The epidemic has killed nine babies so far and babies are by far the most vulnerable to the disease, also known as pertussis, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. The best way to protect them is to vaccinate the adults around them, and to vaccinate pregnant women so their babies are born with some immunity.

“As of today, nationwide nearly 18,000 cases have been reported to the CDC,” the CDC’s Dr. Anne Schuchat explained. “That is nearly twice as many as reported last year. We may be on track for a record high pertussis rate this year,” she added. “We may need to go back to 1959 to find as many cases. I think there may be more coming to a place near you. In many cases, babies get this illness from their mothers or others close to them. It’s absolutely tragic.”