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Thursday, 17 May 2012

Pertussis – back in the news big time, but where is it in formal surveillance systems?

Several months ago this site spoke to the issue of pertussis DRPHealth a need for adult pertussis vaccine  in the face of some small outbreaks within the country.

Today’s news includes a report on nearly 1500 cases of pertussis from the state of Washington Washington department of health pertussis statistics .  Of note is a New York Times piece that specifically blames the large number of cases on state funding cuts to public health NYTimes editorial on pertussis   even though Governor Gregoire released a whopping $90,000 in additional resources to fight the outbreak.  

Undoubtably related in some fashion to Canadian exportation of pertussis from BC’s outbreak that began last fall Vancouver sun article referencing 224 BC cases since outbreak start .

There would apparently be clusters of pertussis throughout the US  - but one would not capture this by looking to CDC statistics CDC reporting on pertussis , try Twitter @pertussis for notes about Washington, Illinois, New Mexico, Wisconsin. Google adds at least Iowa and Montana.   Of course weekly US stats are published in the MMWR  MMWR morbidity stats May 11.

While Canada posts weekly influenza statistics, try finding anything more recent than 2004 on national pertussis statistics, and certainly nothing yet this year in Canada Communicable Disease Report   CCDR home page
Have Twitter and Google become the de facto communicable disease surveillance tools of 2012?  Try other search strategies and see how successful you are in getting an update on Canadian pertussis activity in the year, if you are lucky you will find reports of a 100 or so cases in New Brunswick, a cluster in Elgin St. Thomas health unit in Ontario, a distinct rise in cases in Quebec so far this year, and now Southern Alberta in the past week.   

The disconnect between transparent disease reporting in Canada and the US, and the use of newer means of surveillance are becoming increasingly apparent and perhaps foreboding, or perhaps a new opportunity to do things differently.  In any case pertussis remains a dangerous disease and there is a gap in public communication regarding the risk.  

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