As the outbreak of whooping cough continues to spread across Europe, some countries are now turning to more aggressive measures to keep the disease away.
Whooping cough is an infection that’s transmitted through coughing and sneezing. As of Friday, the World Health Organization’s disease surveillance system had recorded about 7,250 confirmed cases of the disease this year, up 26 percent from the same period last year. WHO said 16 countries had seen significant increases in whooping cough cases.
Countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain and Austria have been hardest hit, but WHO is encouraging countries to be even more aggressive in getting rid of the disease.
France is particularly aggressive. As of June 30, the number of confirmed cases had doubled to 41. The surge is in large part attributable to an increase in whooping cough among healthy adults, many of whom aren’t getting the vaccine recommended for children, a study in the journal Neuron showed.
France has organized educational efforts for hospitals and public health officials to encourage immunization. And on June 17, the Ministry of Health came up with a plan to try to block unvaccinated people in the country from entering France in an effort to slow the spread of the disease.
“All manner of measures to prevent the spread of whooping cough” will be put in place, said Laurent Mari, spokesman for the French ministry, according to the Associated Press.
As of last week, WHO listed 68 countries where suspected or confirmed cases were being investigated. WHO has said evidence shows that because whooping cough is transmitted so easily, it is likely to spread faster across borders.
WHO said it’s also concerned about an increase in cases in countries that had long had low numbers.