Drug-resistant whooping cough found in U.S.

NEW YORK — Researchers have discovered the first U.S. cases of whooping cough caused by a germ that may be resistant to the vaccine.

Health officials are looking into whether cases like the dozen found in Philadelphia might be one reason the nation just had its worst year for whooping cough in six decades. The new bug was previously reported in Japan, France and Finland.

“It’s quite intriguing. It’s the first time we’ve seen this here,” said Dr. Tom Clark of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The U.S. cases are detailed in a brief report from the CDC and other researchers in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine.

Whooping cough is a highly contagious disease that can strike people of any age but is most dangerous to children. It was once common, but cases in the U.S. dropped after a vaccine was introduced in the 1940s.

An increase in illnesses in recent years has been partially blamed on a version of the vaccine used since the 1990s, which doesn’t last as long. Last year, the CDC received reports of 41,880 cases, according to a preliminary count. That included 18 deaths.

The new study suggests that the new whooping cough strain may be why more people have been getting sick. Experts don’t think it’s more deadly, but the shots may not work as well against it.

In a small, soon-to-be published study, French researchers found the vaccine seemed to lower the risk of severe disease from the new strain in infants. But it didn’t prevent illness completely, said Nicole Guiso of the Pasteur Institute, one of the researchers.

The new germ was first identified in France, where more extensive testing is routinely done for whooping cough. The strain now accounts for 14 percent of cases there, Guiso said.

In the United States, doctors usually rely on a rapid test to help make a diagnosis. The extra lab work isn’t done often enough to give health officials a good idea how common the new type is here, experts said.

“We definitely need some more information about this before we can draw any conclusions,” the CDC’s Clark said.

The U.S. cases were found in the past two years in patients at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia. One of the study’s researchers works for a subsidiary of Johnson &Johnson, which makes a version of the old whooping cough vaccine that is sold in other countries.

Online:

Journal: http://www.nejm.org

More in Local News

Majority of Marysville City Council seats are contested

The most closely watched race is between Mark James and Donna Wright.

500 tires go up in flames at a store south of Everett

There were no injuries. And it was nowhere near as bad as that months-long tire fire in 1984.

Inclusion super important to Monroe High senior

Sarah Reeves worked to make homecoming more representative of the student population.

A pot deal between teens leaves them injured, facing charges

Police found out about the incident when both ended up at the same hospital that night.

Funds up for council vote would aid conservation district

District stands to receive an extra $1 million each year, if the County Council gives its approval.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

Lake Stevens man injured by 50-foot fall near Leavenworth

The rescuers had to tie in to keep from falling due to the steep rugged terrain.

‘Welcome to fall:” Wet, windy weather in the forecast

The Weather Service is warning people to prepare for power outages, possible flooding and falling trees.

Paul Brandal, 64, walks with his 25-year-old bison, “Wobble,” across a portion of his 70-acre farm between Ebey Slough and Sunnyside Boulevard Monday afternoon. “He just knows me,” Brandle says about the 1,800-pound animal. “He follows me around like a puppy.” (Dan Bates / The Herald)
From a wobbly calf to 1,00-pound behemoth

Wobble, a huge, shaggy bison, had a precarious start in life but now is the last of his herd.

Most Read