Cases of whooping cough have been spreading quickly across the UK, with 1,141 cases recorded throughout the year so far.

Also known as the ‘100-day cough’, cases of whooping cough have increased by 26% compared with the two previous years combined. Starting with a bacterial infection known as pertussis, the illness starts with cold-like symptoms before leading to severe coughing fits which can last for three months.

Due to these symptoms, it can be called the 100-day cough. Since the beginning of summer, infections have trebled with 716 cases reported over the last five months.

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This is 230% higher than in the same period in 2022. You can use the map below to find out how many cases there are in your area.

According to the UK Health Security Agency, the London borough of Hackney has seen more cases than anywhere else in England and Wales so far this year, with 77. Hackney is followed by Wirral in Merseyside (35 cases) and then Leeds (30) and Birmingham (30).

When compared to the population Hackney also has the highest rate of cases per 100,000 population with 29.6, followed by Gateshead (13.2) and Wirral (10.9).

Check your area here

Not everywhere has seen the spread of Whooping Cough – nearly a third of more than 300 local authority areas monitored by the UKHSA have yet to identify a single case.

But Professor Helen Bedford, an expert in child public health at University College London, has warned people to beware of the disease.

She said: “As expected, we are now seeing cases of whooping cough increase again, so it’s vital pregnant women ensure they get vaccinated to protect their baby. Whooping cough in young babies can be very serious and vaccinating their mothers in pregnancy is the only way of ensuring they are protected in the first few months.”

Earlier this year the UKHSA warned that uptake of the maternal Whooping Cough vaccine had dropped to its lowest level in seven years. Data for 2022 shows an average uptake across England of 61.5%, a 7.6% fall since 2020.

Coverage in London is particularly low at 41.4%. The maternal vaccine provides newborn babies with protection against whooping cough which lasts until they are old enough to be routinely vaccinated, with the immunity from the mother passed through the placenta during pregnancy.

Dr Gayatri Amirthalingam, Consultant Epidemiologist at UKHSA, said: “Whooping cough can be very serious for young babies, particularly under six months, and can lead to pneumonia, permanent brain damage and even death. That’s why it’s so important that all expectant mothers get the vaccine at the recommended time from 20 weeks, to give their babies the best protection from this serious and highly contagious disease.”

The NHS explains that after about a week, you or your child might experience coughing fits that last for a few minutes, are worse at night, and may make a “whoop” sound – a gasp for breath between coughs. After a severe coughing fit, the patient may find it hard to breathe and could turn blue or grey (especially young infants), and they may bring up thick mucus, which can cause vomiting.

The cough may last several weeks or months.

The NHS advises asking for an urgent GP appointment or seeking help from NHS 11 if your baby is under six months old and has symptoms, if you or your child have a bad cough that is getting worse, or if you’re pregnant – or if you or your child have a weakened immune system – and have been in contact with someone with Whooping Cough.

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