There were more cases of whooping cough in the U.S. in 2012 than in any year since 1955, provisional data suggest. The disease, which still sounds a little old-fashioned to these young ears, has been on the rise in America since 1980. What's going on?
It's easy to blame parents who choose not to vaccinate their kids, based on anti-science beliefs. Indeed, researchers have found that unvaccinated kids have sparked whooping cough (scientifically known as pertussis) and measles outbreaks in certain schools.
Yet because their numbers are small, they're not enough to explain the overall U.S. rise. "We don't believe the small numbers of parents who are refusing pertussis vaccines for their children are driving the large numbers of cases we’re seeing across the country," Alison Patti, a health education specialist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wrote in an email response to my questions.