Professor warns rise in 100 day cough cases ‘significant concern’ – the signs

Doctor explains treatment for whooping cough on This Morning

A professor has issued advice about protecting yourself against a very contagious disease, known as the 100 day cough, as the UK is currently seeing a spike in cases. So far this year, the health authorities have received notifications of 1,141 cases of whooping cough.

According to the latest data, there were 716 cases of the Victorian disease reported in England and Wales between July and November. This represents more than three times the number compared to the same time in 2022.

The bacterial infection, also known as pertussis, starts with cold-like symptoms but can lead to severe coughing fits, lasting up to three months. These persistent symptoms contribute to the disease sometimes being called the 100 day cough.

According to Dr Chris Papadopoulos, Principal Lecturer in Public Health at the University of Bedfordshire, the surge in cases is serious. He told “The recent rise in whooping cough cases in the UK is indeed a significant concern, particularly as we approach the winter months.

“This concern is amplified by the existing pressures on the NHS, which is often stretched during this time. Therefore, it’s crucial to minimise community disease transmission as much as possible, especially during these colder months.”

READ MORE The tell-tale sign of the 100 day cough that’s more common at night

How to minimise your risk of catching whooping cough?

Therefore, the expert recommended wearing face masks in public, particularly in crowded and poorly ventilated areas.

Dr Papadopoulos said: “Wearing a mask has been proven to reduce the risk of transmitting respiratory diseases, thereby not only curbing the spread of whooping cough but also helping in the fight against other airborne diseases such as flu and COVID-19.

“The practice of mask-wearing, therefore, offers additional benefits by protecting both the wearer and those around them, including those who may be particularly vulnerable.”

Adults are also at risk of 100 day cough

While whooping cough can be particularly serious in babies, sometimes leading to pneumonia, seizures and even death, the professor warned that adults should also be careful.

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He said: “The infection is generally more severe in babies, especially those under six months, due to their underdeveloped immune systems and the risk of complications.

“However, adults can also be affected, especially those who are immunocompromised, though it tends to be less severe compared to children.

“Those who have been previously infected or vaccinated may still contract the disease, but typically it is less severe in these cases.”

Key symptoms of whooping cough to spot

According to the NHS, the first signs to ring alarm bells are usually a runny nose and sore throat. However, the symptoms then progress to more severe, typically around a week after the first red flags appear.

Dr Papadopoulos said: “The key symptoms include intense coughing bouts, which can last for several minutes and are more common at night. The coughing may bring up thick mucus and might be followed by vomiting. Between coughs, people might gasp for breath, producing a characteristic ‘whoop’ sound.

“The effort of coughing can cause the face to become very red, and there may be slight bleeding under the skin or in the eyes.

“In young children, especially babies under six months, the cough might not be as noticeable, but they may experience brief periods of stopped breathing.”

The NHS recommends asking for an urgent GP appointment or getting help from NHS 111 if:

  • Your baby is under six months old and has symptoms of whooping cough
  • You or your child have a very bad cough that is getting worse
  • You’ve been in contact with someone with whooping cough and you’re pregnant
  • You or your child has been in contact with someone with whooping cough and have a weakened immune system.

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