Rising cases of whooping cough in France: Prevention measures are essential to avoid severe cases and deaths in infants

Following an initial alert at the European level, Santé publique France reported a resurgence of whooping cough in the country since the beginning of 2024. The latest data published on June 2, 2024, confirm the resurgence of the disease in France with more cases reported in the first five months of the year than in 2023. The sharp increase in the number of cases and clustered cases in recent weeks confirms the intensification of the community circulation of the bacteria announced in the first quarter of 2024. At the European level, the ECDC reported 25,130 cases of whooping cough in 2023 compared to 32,037 cases between January 1 and March 31, 2024.

Whooping cough, mainly caused by the Bordetella pertussis bacteria, is highly contagious and spreads through the air, especially through contact with a sick person with a cough. Transmission mainly occurs within families or in communities. Infants too young to be vaccinated (under 2 months) are the most affected by severe forms, hospitalizations, and deaths. Santé publique France emphasizes the importance of prevention measures and vaccination to protect those at risk of severe forms and calls for increased vigilance in the coming months. The epidemiological monitoring of the epidemic and this new cycle will determine the extent and duration, which are currently unpredictable.

In France, various surveillance indicators for whooping cough monitored by Santé publique France confirm the resurgence of the disease in the country. While in the first quarter of 2024, a few regions reported clustered cases, the entire territory is now affected with significant increases in all surveillance networks.

The data from different surveillance networks, including RENACOQ, 3-Labos, OSCOUR, SOS médecins, Sentinelles, and the National Reference Center, all point to a significant increase in whooping cough activity. The analysis of clustered cases shows that most clusters occur within families or in communities, with a majority of cases not up to date with their vaccination.

Prevention measures are crucial for the management of whooping cough cases, including early treatment of the patient and their close contacts, as well as reporting nosocomial infections and clustered cases. Vaccination and the use of masks are essential in combating the spread of whooping cough. The vaccination strategy in France focuses on reducing severe forms of the disease, hospitalizations, and deaths, especially in infants under 6 months.

It is recommended to vaccinate pregnant women, individuals at risk of severe forms of whooping cough, and those in close contact with infants. The use of masks is also highlighted as an effective barrier measure to prevent the spread of respiratory infections, including whooping cough.

Downloadable resources provide more information on vaccination and the use of masks to protect against whooping cough.