Doctors warn of deadly whooping cough epidemic sweeping Europe

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European countries have reported a surge in whooping coughc ases in first quarter of 2024, with 10 times as many identified as in each of the previous two years.

Nearly 60,000 cases were reported by European Union and European Economic Area countries over the period, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said on Wednesday, with 11 deaths in infants and eight among older adults.

In the UK cases of whooping cough could reach a 40-year high in 2024, experts have warned amid a rapid rise in cases.

Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a bacterial infection of the lungs and airways, and is endemic in Europe. It can be very dangerous for young babies or older people.

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Bigger whooping cough epidemics are expected every 3-5 years even in countries with high vaccination rates, the ECDC said, although a slight dip in immunisation during the COVID-19 pandemic may have been a factor in the rise. Circulation of whooping cough was also very low during the pandemic and its related restrictions on movement, making the rise seem larger.

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