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An increase in the incidence of pertussis, or whooping cough in Denmark during the months of May and June 2023 has been reported, according to the Statens Serum Institut.


The number of detected cases of whooping cough is usually below 80 to 100 cases per month. But in the month of May, 104 cases were detected, and in June, at least 284 cases were detected.

“Like many other respiratory infections, the incidence of whooping cough has been very low in the period during and after the covid-19 restrictions, and the increase now is therefore even more significant,” says department doctor Peter Henrik Andersen from the Department of Infection Epidemiology and Prevention at SSI.

The increase has been seen in most of the country, but especially on Funen the increase is significant.

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Whooping cough typically occurs with increased frequency every three to five years. The most recent epidemics of whooping cough in Denmark took place in 2016/17 and 2019/20.

“It is therefore not unusual that there is again an increase in the number of cases. It is still too early to say whether the increase will go away on its own again, or continue to epidemic levels – but you should currently pay extra attention to the diagnosis in both children and adults,” says Peter Henrik Andersen.

Biggest increase among young people

Especially among the 10 to 19-year-olds that there is an increase, which is normal. But the proportion is currently larger compared to the epidemic in 2019/20.

In June, a death from whooping cough in a prematurely born child of 2 months was reported.

Pertussis vaccination is part of the child vaccination program at 3, 5 and 12 months of age and at 5 years of age – protection is estimated to last 5-10 years, and protection among young people is thus expected to be low.