Latest figures published today by Public Health England (PHE) show a sustained fall in the numbers of whooping cough cases this year.
In England a total of 380 cases were confirmed in May, compared to 410 cases the previous month and 682 in May last year.
Cases of whooping cough in babies under one year also remained low, however PHE immunisation experts are reminding pregnant women of the importance of having the whooping cough vaccine, especially during the summer months when cases of whooping cough are normally expected to rise. Sadly, one baby under two months of age has already died this year from the disease.
Dr Gayatri Amirthalingam, consultant epidemiologist for immunisation at PHE, said:
It is encouraging to see cases of whooping cough continuing to fall, especially in babies under 3 months of age who are at highest risk of the most serious complications from the disease.
We are now approaching the time of year when we would normally expect to see cases of whooping cough begin to increase. It is crucial that pregnant women continue to get vaccinated to provide their babies with protection until they are old enough to have their routine vaccines.
Professor David Salisbury, Director of Immunisation at the Department of Health has written to GPs, Directors of Public Health and local NHS teams across England urging them to remain focused on encouraging pregnant women to get the vaccine.
The whooping cough vaccination for pregnant women was introduced by the Department of Health in October 2012 following a record 9,368 cases of whooping cough in England last year. Latest figures up to March 2013 show that around 57% of women are having the vaccine, which is offered between weeks 28 and 38 of pregnancy.
A total of 380 confirmed cases of whooping cough (pertussis) were recorded in England in May 2013. 10 cases occurred in babies under one year of age with the highest numbers occurring in those aged 15 years and older. The south east and south west of the country had the highest numbers of cases overall with 60 and 74 cases respectively.
Further information about the whooping cough vaccination programme for pregnant women is available.