Tuesday, 09 April 2024 14:29

Pertussis takes over Europe - Croatia in the spotlight

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Pertussis takes over Europe Pertussis takes over Europe pixabay

Europe is grappling with another wave of pertussis, an infectious lung disease, which this time has found its epicenter in Croatia. This warning reached us on Tuesday through the newspaper "Jutarnji list," highlighting a significant increase in the number of cases in the region. Pertussis, characterized by paroxysmal, "barking" cough in children and chronic cough in adults, spreads through airborne droplets, often in family or communal living conditions.


Decline in Vaccination Rates Leads to Increase in Cases

One of the main reasons for the rapid spread of pertussis is the decline in vaccination rates across Europe. The vaccine against pertussis, part of the combined DTP vaccine (against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis), is administered to children in several doses, starting from two months to the first year of life, with additional doses at two years and then from three to seven years old. Despite such an organized vaccination program, we are witnessing a decline in vaccination acceptance, especially among pregnant women in England, where the vaccination rate dropped from over 70% in September 2017 to 58% in September 2023.

Consequences and Further Actions

Although the disease usually runs its course without serious consequences in adults, in children it can lead to serious complications, and in some cases, even death. Therefore, maintaining a high level of awareness about vaccinations and encouraging their uptake to protect the youngest is especially important. As the example of the Czech Republic shows, where despite mandatory vaccinations and a high percentage of vaccinated infants (97%), outbreaks can still occur, constant monitoring and responding to any changes in the dynamics of the disease's spread are crucial.

Faced with these challenges, European countries must refocus their efforts on health education and vaccination promotion to prevent further spread of pertussis. The rise in cases in Croatia serves as a reminder that infectious diseases know no borders and that joint, coordinated actions are key in fighting pandemics.