Fears over whooping cough epidemic
4 August 2004 , AMSTERDAM — The Government Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) has raised concern over a whooping cough epidemic across the Netherlands, revealing it has received more than a 1,000 reported cases in recent months.
4 August 2004
AMSTERDAM — The Government Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) has raised concern over a whooping cough epidemic across the Netherlands, revealing it has received more than a 1,000 reported cases in recent months.
The RIVM is also receiving reports from regions across the country that an increasing number or parents are refusing to have their children vaccinated. These children are at greater risk of infection, a spokesman said on Wednesday.
The RIVM does not have definite figures revealing a declining number of vaccinations, but health authorities in the provinces of Flevoland and Overijssel estimated the drop to be about 5 percent.
Whooping cough epidemics occur every three to four years and the epidemic that started in May was anticipated. The RIVM also stressed the epidemic was not caused by a lower vaccination rate.
It is not yet clear whether the current epidemic has peaked.
The spokesman expects the delay in vaccinations of four-year-olds — recently announced by Health Minister Hans Hoogervorst — will not have a large impact on the epidemic.
These children are vaccinated as babies against whooping cough and so are already protected from infection. The vaccination at four years is designed as a booster, the spokesman told news agency ANP.
Whooping cough is a dangerous bacterial infection of the respiratory system that in some cases can result in death. It is characterised by severe coughing spells that end in a "whooping" sound when the person breathes in.
The RIVM said indications currently suggest no one has died in the latest epidemic.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news