Friday, July 27, 2012


The pertussis outbreaks in Floyd County last year didn't quite make national (or even regional) headlines, but it appears that the depth and breath of this year's outbreaks of pertussis are gaining a lot of press (and specific coverage in last week's MMWR, which only focuses on Washington state, where the Secretary of Health declared a pertussis epidemic in April).

Outbreaks are happening nationwide and internationally, as The Guardian reported today that 5 infants have died from pertussis so far this year. Lots more to look into there, particularly as it relates to the Olympics and travel to/from London.

Interesting trends that I'm seeing, both in the actual outbreaks and the reporting:

  1. Lots of emphasis on getting vaccinated as a way to control these outbreaks and to lessen the intensity of symptoms if one does contract pertussis. 
  2. This article in the LA Times gives, I think, an interesting explanation for why so many teens and adults have waning immunity: the change to acellular DTaP vaccinations in the late 1990's. 
  3. The article describes the change from DTP to DTaP as a response to concerns about side effects, namely rare, "inconsistently" proven neurological side effects (like those first brought up in DPT (sic): Vaccine Roulette, I believe).  It will be interesting to see how those claims continue to develop as a part of popular and government reporting on the outbreaks.
  4. Most of the articles I'm seeing don't use that rationale for blaming antivaccinators for these outbreaks and focus instead on the risk that low vaccination rates pose to herd immunity. This article in Forbes is particularly harsh.

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