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Researchers: New Whooping Cough Strain May Be Vaccine-Resistant

Update Date: Feb 06, 2013 11:58 PM EST

The whooping cough is making its rounds in the U.S. and researchers say it is caused by a germ that may be resistant to the vaccine.

The first cases reported in France, Japan and Finland; Now, St. Christopher's Children's Hospital in Philadelphia finding a dozen cases of vaccine-resistant pertussis, better known as whooping cough, according to Fox News.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the nearly 42,000 U.S. cases last year - at least 18 fatal - are the most in six decades, and its possible the new strain of the highly contagious disease is the culprit.

"It's quite intriguing. It's the first time we've seen this here," said Dr. Tom Clark of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The whooping cough is a highly contagious disease and can affect people of all age. It is particularly dangerous for young children. Last year, the CDC received reports of 41,880 cases, according to a preliminary count. That included 18 deaths.

"There are several theories as to why we're seeing more pertussis," said Dr. Kenneth Bromberg, chairman of pediatrics and director of the Vaccine Research Center at the Brooklyn Hospital Center, in New York City, according to US News.

"One theory is better diagnosis. A second [theory] is that the vaccines are not as good in terms of longevity as the whole-cell vaccine was. The third theory is that there have been genetic changes in the strains of pertussis, such that it makes new strains immune or relatively immune to the current vaccines."

"The thought is that the bacteria have gotten smart and are eliminating the pertactin in themselves," said Bromberg, who was not involved in the current research.

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