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In a follow-up on the whooping cough, or pertussis situation in Denmark, new figures from the Statens Serum Institut (SSI) show that the respiratory infection remains at a high level.

Bordetella pertussis

The infection figures look like this throughout the country: July: 291 cases, June: 290 cases and May: 104 cases.

In the month of July, an increase can be seen among 0-year-old children, where 14 cases alone were detected against 11 in the previous six months combined. Until the end of June, in 2023, 4 cases had been detected among children under 3 months, but in July alone the infection was detected in 8 children in this age group, who are too young to have been vaccinated themselves.

Based on the current increased incidence of whooping cough, the Minister of the Interior and Health has decided to introduce a new temporary offer of free vaccination against whooping cough for pregnant women. The offer runs until 31 December 2023, after which, based on a recommendation from the Danish Health Authority, the offer is sought to be made permanent.

“The continued high incidence of whooping cough in July indicates that the infection has taken hold. Now we also see more cases among infants, who are the most vulnerable. Therefore, it is important that pregnant women take the opportunity to be vaccinated,” says department doctor and department head Peter Henrik Andersen from SSI.

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The symptoms of classic whooping cough are strong coughing fits followed by howling (“whooping”) breathing and possibly vomiting. The symptoms can last up to 3 months with a gradually milder cough. Whooping cough also appears in an atypical picture, which is simply characterized by a long-term course of paroxysmal, dry cough.

In infants who are not vaccinated, whooping cough can have a serious and, in the worst case, life-threatening course. Whooping cough is not considered dangerous for other age groups with a normal immune system, but the disease can be extremely uncomfortable and exhausting.