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Denmark hit by a whooping cough epidemic

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Since May, there has been a rising number of cases of whooping cough, and during the summer, the number has been steadily increasing. The increase has been observed across the entire country except for Bornholm, and in August, the number of confirmed cases was four times higher than usual.

Therefore, the State Serum Institute (SSI) assesses this as an epidemic.

“There is a significant increase. It is well-known that whooping cough occurs in epidemics every three to five years, and the last epidemic we had was in 2019-2020. Typically, such an epidemic lasts for about six months to a year,” says Dr. Peter Henrik Andersen, Head of the Department of Infection Epidemiology and Prevention at SSI.

According to SSI, the number of cases reached 439 in August. This count includes cases detected in laboratories, and individuals with whooping cough not confirmed in a laboratory are not included in the count. Normally, fewer than 100 cases are registered per month.

Whooping cough occurs in all age groups, but there is typically an overrepresentation of cases among children under one year of age, as well as among older children and adolescents. Similarly, there is often a higher incidence among adults aged 40-50 years, likely because parents of children with whooping cough themselves get tested.

Vaccination reintroduced

Whooping cough vaccination is a part of the Danish vaccination program, but the vaccination does not provide lifelong protection. The vaccination program primarily aims to protect infants from the disease, as they are at risk of a severe course of illness.

The increasing incidence of whooping cough has led to the reintroduction of a temporary offer of whooping cough vaccination for pregnant women starting on August 1st. Pregnant women are recommended to be vaccinated against whooping cough in the second or third trimester of pregnancy. This provides protection for the infant until they can receive their first vaccination at three months of age.

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