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.
Read more in Thursday’s Arizona Daily Star and at azstarnet.com