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

Video shows man suspected of attacking a woman in Edmonds

The man allegedly threw her on the ground, then ran away after the she began kicking and screaming.

Edmonds police are searching for Derrick “Wiz” Crawford, 22, in the homicide of his roommate. If you see him, call 911. (Edmonds Police Department)
Roommate suspected in Edmonds killing found hiding in closet

Police had been searching for him for 10 days before locating him at a house in Everett.

Former Monroe cop loses appeal on sex crimes conviction

Once a highly respected officer, he was found guilty of secretly videotaping his kids’ babysitter.

Officials to test sanity of suspect in Everett crime spree

He allegedly tried to rob and clobber a transit worker, then fled and struggled with police.

Suspect sought in two Everett bank robberies

He’s described as 5-foot-10 to 6-foot-1, with dark hair and a goatee, and may have a neck tattoo.

Navy to put filter in Coupeville’s contaminated water system

Chemicals from firefighting foam was found in the town’s drinking water.

Two missing men found, one alive and one dead

The man found alive was found in an apartment across the hallway and taken to a hospital.

Darrington School Board dealing with upheavals

The crux of the controversy seems to be the superintendent’s job.

Alaska Airlines has selected destinations for new service from Paine Field. (Alaska Airlines)
Alaska Airlines will fly from Everett to 8 West Coast cities

Two destinations that didn’t make the list were Spokane and Hawaii.

Most Read