Health Crisis in Bulgaria: Rising Whooping Cough Infections Prompt Vaccination Push

Written by Henrik Rothen

Apr.21 - 2024 11:34 AM CET

Bulgaria faces a growing whooping cough crisis, with a surge in cases and infant fatalities sparking urgent health measures.

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Bulgaria is currently grappling with a worrying increase in whooping cough cases, which has claimed the lives of two infants and sparked a health alert across the nation.

Over the past week, more than 250 new cases were reported, signaling a potential epidemic. Health Minister Galia Kondewa highlighted the growing concern due to the rapid rise in infections, particularly among children.

The Vulnerable Ones

The most affected are seemingly the youngest, with the two fatalities being infants under three months old, too young to have been vaccinated.

This tragic situation underscores the vulnerability of unvaccinated children to severe outcomes from what is often dismissed as a childhood illness.

The National Center for Contagious Diseases noted an alarming spike in cases, particularly among children aged 8-10, with 54 new instances documented in just the last seven days.

Angel Kunczew, the Chief Sanitary Inspector, has voiced his concerns over what he perceives as the makings of an epidemic.

He points out that a drop in regular vaccination rates is partly to blame, with increasing vaccine hesitancy among parents despite medical assurances about vaccine safety and effectiveness.

In response to this emergent health crisis, the Ministry of Health is taking proactive steps. It has mandated family doctors to update their vaccination schedules and send out notices to parents of unvaccinated children, urging them to complete the necessary immunizations to protect their children and communities from further spread.

What is Whooping Cough?

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. It spreads through airborne droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The disease is known for its severe coughing fits, which can be followed by a 'whooping' sound as the person breathes in. While it can affect individuals of any age, whooping cough is particularly dangerous for infants and young children. It can lead to serious complications such as pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, and in severe cases, death. Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent whooping cough, with doses typically administered during early childhood as part of routine immunizations.

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