Whooping cough: after the death of a baby and serious cases in Lille, a doctor calls for vaccination

Whooping cough: after the death of a baby and serious cases in Lille, a doctor calls for vaccination
Whooping cough: after the death of a baby and serious cases in Lille, a doctor calls for vaccination

Bordetella pertussis. This is the name of the bacteria that causes a disease that has not been talked about for some time but is making a comeback: whooping cough. Contagious, it causes a sometimes long-lasting respiratory infection, hence its nickname “ 100 day cough “. It is also dangerous for newborns. And don’t spare Hauts-de-France.

An infant died of whooping cough at Lille University Hospital

Lately, the pediatric emergencies of the Lille University Hospital have seen little sick people arriving “ abnormally often, with one or two cases per week », Confirms Professor François Dubos, head of the pediatric emergency and pediatric infectious disease department. “ We had serious forms, with admissions to intensive care, very heavy care and long lengths of stay. With vital risks for several of them, including one who died “, he specifies.

Contacted by Voix du Nord, the regional unit of Public Health France confirms for Hauts-de-France “ a trend towards an increase in the pertussis PCR positivity rate in the region in February and March 2024 (latest data available) ” but also “ a moderate increase in the number of emergency room visits in April, with trends that must be confirmed in the coming weeks “. On the other hand, “ we do not see a significant increase in the SOS Médecins data nor in the number of grouped cases reported to the ARS Hauts-de-France “.

Against whooping cough, “reinforced vigilance” throughout France

The alert is national: in mid-April, Santé Publique France called for a “ increased vigilance “: in 2024, 70 cases of whooping cough have already been reported in “ around fifteen clusters, mainly in communities (nursery, primary schools, daycare centers and nursery homes) “. There had been 39 for the whole of 2023. A baby also died in Nice.

The last whooping cough peak was in 2017-2018. It circulated much less thanks to health measures around Covid-19. Vaccination is compulsory from two months of age, with boosters at 6, 11 and 25 years of age. “ All people around a baby under six months of age who has not yet been vaccinated must check that they have been vaccinated under the age of 10. And to protect the baby of one or two months, we have effective protection by vaccinating the mother when she is pregnant. », insists François Dubos.

This vaccination of the mother-to-be, which can be done at a general practitioner or in a pharmacy, is only recommended today. For François Dubos, some are “ reluctant “, while “ this vaccine has been used for 20 years, and that it is inactivated, without bacteria in it “. And if the parents of the baby who died at the Lille University Hospital “ were opposed to vaccination ”, those that are not are not necessarily up to date. “ It’s too stupid and in this case we feel extremely guilty: in more than half of the cases, it’s the dad or the mom who transmits it to the baby, in one in four cases, it’s the siblings, and then it’s the close entourage », warns François Dubos.

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