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Whooping cough cases "have jumped"

Provisional figures from the Department of Health suggest cases of whooping cough have risen 177% in the last five years.

There were 1,071 cases recorded in England last year, compared with the 539 cases in 2006 and 386 cases seen in 2003.

Tuberculosis (TB) infections have also gone up by 17%, from 6,741 in 2003 to 7,862 in 2006, while cholera has risen 52%, from 25 cases to 38, and typhoid has gone up 17%, from 174 to 203 over the same period.

There were also 1,442 cases of mumps in England and Wales, and 1,876 cases of scarlet fever last year, but these are a reduction on 2006.

But the whooping cough figures need to be taken in context, as data from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) shows the number of cases overall has fallen dramatically. In 1991 there were 4,908 recorded cases in England.

Shadow Health Secretary Norman Lamb said he requested the statistics, adding: "The government's answer to my question will shock people when they hear that diseases which belonged to a bygone era are making a comeback.

"Prevention is often a case of a simple vaccine. The NHS is failing in its duty to prevent easily avoidable disease.

"Many of these diseases are connected to the kind of poverty which is at the root of the growing health inequality since Labour came to power.

"Public health schemes are failing to reach the people who need them the most."

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Department of Health

Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"Responsible journalism would be of benefit as well as political desicions such as children not being allowed into nursery/school system without full up to date immunisation programme being completed." - Name and address supplied

"What does Norman Lamb suggest we do about it. The DNA rate for baby imms in our area is diabolical. We write to them, we ring them. Health visitors only able to deal with high risk families so don't get to chase up nonattenders. At wits end as a practice nurse to find a solution. If government dont come up with something we will see all the old diseases come back! What about linking it to attending school, or child benifit?" - Name and address supplied

"Disease prevention will always be a problem as long as parents have a choice. Political decision needs to be taken which has a compulsory element as there is in some countries." - Arlene Cameron, Health Visitor, Bury