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Whooping cough cases in Nottinghamshire highest in East Midlands

Nottinghamshire now has the highest number of cases of whooping cough in the East Midlands.

Lucy Hubber, Director of Public Health at Nottingham City Council, warned cases are “particularly high in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire”.

However, she added cases of measles in the area are “beginning to ease”.

The Government says the increase in whooping cough across England is “occurring after a prolonged period of low case numbers due to restrictions and reduced social mixing patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic”.

Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a contagious bacterial infection of the lungs and breathing tubes. The symptoms are similar to a cold at first but it then develops into a serious cough.

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Data shows there were 553 cases confirmed in England in January, compared with 858 cases for the whole of 2023.

In the week ending March 17, there were 29 whooping cough cases reported in Nottinghamshire county and 15 in the city – far more than any other area in the East Midlands. The local area with the second-highest number of cases in the same week was Derbyshire county with 11.

In a meeting on March 28, Ms Hubber said: “We are now beginning to see a really noticeable increase in whooping cough which is a condition we haven’t seen at this level in many years.

“It is an entirely vaccine-preventable condition.

“The messages are not just about getting the MMR but getting your full programme of vaccinations.”

Whooping cough can be prevented through a different jab to MMR, which also protects against polio, diptheria and tetanus.

Dr Husein Mawji said the reasons for low vaccination rates in certain parts of Nottingham “isn’t simply because parents are anti-vax”.

He said: “A lot of work has gone on in the last four years to support vaccination.

“It’s through engagement with communities and multiple groups including faith leaders, that’s where engagement is having an impact.”

He said extra vaccination sessions have been offered which are “culturally and language appropriate”.

Ms Hubber added: “The measles outbreak that was so very significant in the West Midlands is beginning to ease now.

“Whilst we have seen an increase in the East Midlands, Leicester and Leicestershire have managed those very well.

“We haven’t seen those cases across Nottingham and Nottinghamshire which is reassuring.”

Sally Olohan, of the University of Nottingham said: “Both universities’ health practices have been working with public health to promote the uptake of vaccinations.

“One of the issues we face is that the vaccinating records for our international students are not coming through very clearly so it’s difficult to determine the complete picture of uptake.

“We are confident that we are working well in this area.”

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