PAHO calls for increased surveillance as whooping cough/pertussis is on the increase

Due to a significant increase of pertussis cases in several areas of the Region, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO), the aforementioned has issued an epidemiological alert to Member States, encouraging them to increase their level of surveillance, and to continuously monitor the level of vaccination coverage in one year old infants and children under five years old, with particular emphasis on identifying susceptible groups.


As part of the Minister of Public Health’s Hon. Cornelius de Weever campaign ‘Get Checked,’ the Minister reiterates his calling on parents/guardians with young children to check their vaccination status where its concerns pertussis.

The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), an agency of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, is urging parents and guardians to follow the Minister’s advice, and if the child is not vaccinated against the aforementioned, to do so in order to prevent whooping cough. The infection has become a re-emerging disease, which today is one of the major causes of morbidity and mortality in children.

The main victims of this acute respiratory infection of the respiratory tracts are infants younger than six months, usually acquired from their parents or teenage siblings.

The bacterium is transmitted from an infected individual to another by means of droplets expelled by the respiratory tracts. Incubation period is between seven to 10 days, after which patients develop symptoms which includes coughing.

In infants, pertussis can be a serious disease that can lead to severe complications or even death, unlike what happens in adults or older children.

Pertussis continues to be a public health problem in several countries in the Region of the Americas. So far for 2012, there has been an increase in the number of pertussis cases in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay, Venezuela, and the United States of America.