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Sharp rise in cases of new strain of whooping cough

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Australia’s prolonged whooping cough epidemic has entered a disturbing new phase, with a study showing a new strain or genotype capable of evading the vaccine may be responsible for the sharp rise in the number of cases.

A team of Australian scientists, led by the University of New South Wales (UNSW), believe this emerging new genotype (called prn2-ptxP3) of the Bordetella pertussis bacterium may be evading the protective effects of the current acellular vaccine (ACV), and increasing the incidence of the potentially fatal respiratory illness, according to the study published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

The new genotype also has been detected in other countries, suggesting it has the potential to spark epidemics elsewhere and should be closely monitored, the researchers warn.

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