November 1, 2012 | 6:00am
We've been predicting it for months, and new data from the Department of Health now confirm it.
Whooping cough cases are the highest they've been in Florida for the past decade, and probably a lot longer than that. As of Tuesday, there have an astonishing 515 cases around the state, according to DOH spokeswoman Jessica Hammonds.
How far have we fallen? Consider that in 2002, there were only 53 cases of whooping cough recorded in Florida.
Prior to 2012, the highest number of whooping cough cases recorded in a single year over the past decade was 497, and that was back in 2009. But that was an anomaly. Between 2002 and 2011, the average number of cases was 240.1.
So why are we more than double the average this year?
Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a highly contagious disease. The good news is that there's a vaccine against it that works well. The bad news is that, as the Pulp previously reported
, many children and even more adults aren't vaccinated. And while the vaccine works well, it's not foolproof.
Most of us associate whooping cough with babies and children, but the fact is that adults are prone to the ailment. The vaccine should protect against the disease for a decade, but can you remember the last time you were vaccinated?
As for Broward, there have been at 34 cases reported, but that figure is based on data released at the end of September. There have likely been more over the past month.
Here's a look at the dramatic rise of whooping cough in Florida since 2002, from data collected by the Department of Health:
2002- 53 cases2003- 116 cases2004- 132 cases2005- 208 cases2006- 228 cases2007- 211 cases2008- 314 cases2009- 497 cases2010- 329 cases2011- 313 cases2012- 515 cases (as of 10/30/12)