For the first time, American researchers have found evidence that the bacteria that cause whooping cough are becoming resistant to vaccines, a new study shows.
Vaccine-resistant whooping cough has previously been documented in Japan, France and Finland, according to the report, published Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Public health officials have been particularly concerned about whooping cough, also known as pertussis, because of recent outbreaks. Last year, the USA suffered the largest whooping cough outbreak since 1955, with nearly 42,000 reported cases and 18 fatalities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most deaths were in children, particularly babies under 3 months old. Newborns like these are too young to be fully vaccinated, and their tiny airways can quickly swell shut.