Seven babies under the age of two months have died this year in the Western Cape after contracting whooping cough, as health authorities note a marked increase in cases nationally.
Whooping cough (pertussis) is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection caused by a bacteria called Bordetella pertussis. Infants are particularly at risk of severe disease as they are too young to be immunised — the first pertussis immunisation dose is usually administered at six weeks.
“Through our surveillance system, the Western Cape department of health has picked up a marked increase in pertussis cases,” the department said.
“Since January, cases have been increasing throughout the country (408), particularly in the Western Cape where we have had 230 cases, most of them since September.
These are laboratory-confirmed cases and probably represent only a small fraction of the true cases in the community. “Seven infants, all under the age of two months, have died from pertussis in the Western Cape in 2022.”