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Czechs see record spread of whooping cough

By AFP

March 15, 2024 08:54 PM


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More than 3,000 Czechs have caught whooping cough so far this year, the highest figure since the 1960s, with teenagers the worst hit, health authorities said Friday.

Doctors have registered 810 cases this week alone, and 80-year-old Prague mayor Bohuslav Svoboda said earlier this week he had overcome the respiratory illness in recent days.

But after he attended a political meeting without a face mask Wednesday, the Green Party filed a criminal complaint against him for spreading an infectious disease.

The State Institute of Public Health said on its website that 3,084 cases of the disease have been detected since January 1.

"The disease is affecting all age groups," it said, adding that teenagers were the worst-hit category.

Matyas Fosum, head of the public health at the health ministry, said the outbreak was probably peaking now.

And chief public health officer Pavla Svrcinova said no blanket measures were currently being considered.

Teenagers had been hit the hardest because parents often ignored the recommended revaccination at the age of 10-11 years, she added.

"The older generation was vaccinated as children and immunity decreases," she told reporters.

Public health experts are now discussing revaccination for adults because of the outbreak, Svrcinova added.

Vaccination against the illness is mandatory in the EU member of 10.8 million people but is not effective for life, and some people refuse to comply.

Fosum said neighbouring countries were also facing a whooping cough outbreak.

Slovakia's Public Health Authority said Thursday it had registered 123 cases of whooping cough by the end of February.

Before 2020, Slovakia had "dozens to hundreds" of cases per year, it added.

In January, Serbian media reported the death of at least four children in a whooping cough outbreak in the capital Belgrade, with doctors blaming falling vaccinations for the spread.


AFP


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