Deadly 100-day cough strikes UK – see map of every Whooping Cough infection

The 100-day cough, which can kill babies aged one or younger, has been sweeping the United Kingdom, with cases in 2022 more than 26% more than the entire combined total of 2021 and 2022

The 100-day cough is running riot across the UK (stock)
The 100-day cough is running riot across the UK (stock) (Image: Getty Images)

The deadly 100-day cough sweeping the UK has seen a whopping 230% rise in cases in 2023 compared to last year.

According to data compiled by Reach, 1,141 cases have so far been found in the UK, which is also 26% more than 2021 and 2022 combined. The bacterial infection, also known as whooping cough, starts with cold-like symptoms but can lead to severe coughing fits lasting up to three months.

The outbreak of Whooping Cough, also known as pertussis and the 100-day cough due to its long-lasting symptoms, has tripled in cases this year compared to last. Over the past five months, 716 cases have been reported to health authorities.

It has been seen in two-thirds of the UK so far (stock)

It has been seen in two-thirds of the UK so far (stock) (Image: Getty Images)

Prof Helen Bedford, an expert in child public health at University College London, said: “As expected, we are now seeing cases of whooping cough increase again, so it’s vital pregnant women ensure they get vaccinated to protect their baby. Whooping cough in young babies can be very serious and vaccinating their mothers in pregnancy is the only way of ensuring they are protected in the first few months.”

According to the UK Health Security Agency, the London borough of Hackney has seen more cases than anywhere else in England and Wales so far this year, with 77. Hackney is followed by Wirral in Merseyside (35 cases) and then Leeds (30) and Birmingham (30).

When compared to the population, Hackney also has the highest rate of cases per 100,000 population with 29.6, followed by Gateshead (13.2) and Wirral (10.9). Not everywhere has seen the spread of Whooping Cough – nearly a third of more than 300 local authority areas monitored by the UKHSA have yet to identify a single case.

Earlier this year the UKHSA warned that uptake of the maternal Whooping Cough vaccine had dropped to its lowest level in seven years.

Data for 2022 shows an average uptake across England of 61.5%, a 7.6% fall since 2020. Coverage in London is particularly low at 41.4%.

Data for 2022 shows an average uptake across England of 61.5%, a 7.6% fall since 2020 (Image: datawrapper)

The maternal vaccine provides newborn babies with protection against whooping cough which lasts until they are old enough to be routinely vaccinated, with the immunity from the mother passed through the placenta during pregnancy.

According to the NHS, there are five key symptoms. These are:

  • Coughing bouts that last for a few minutes and are worse at night
  • A “whoop” sound – a gasp for breath between coughs (young babies and some adults may not “whoop”)
  • Difficulty breathing after a coughing bout and sufferers, particularly young infants, may turn blue or grey
  • A thick mucus, which can make you vomit
  • Going very red in the face (more common in adults)

The NHS advises anyone who gets it to “stay off school, work or nursery until 48 hours after starting antibiotics, or three weeks after your symptoms started if you’ve not had antibiotics.”

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