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'Too early' to see impact of whooping cough vaccination

Health officials recently announced that all pregnant women will be vaccinated against whooping cough in an attempt to combat the infection and protect newborns.

Responding to last month's figures on the outbreak, Dr Gayatri Amirthalingam, consultant epidemiologist for immunisation at the HPA, said:

The October figures show a continuing rise in the overall number of whooping cough cases. While there has been a decline in the number of infant cases it's important to emphasise that it's too early to see any impact from the pregnancy vaccination programme. Working with the Department of Health, we are continuing to carefully monitor whooping cough activity to evaluate the success of the programme.

Three babies died of whooping cough last month

Pregnant woman.
Health officials recently announced that all pregnant women are to be vaccinated against the infection. Credit: Katie Collins/PA Wire

Three babies died of whooping cough in October amid the biggest outbreak in 20 years, the Health Protection Agency has announced.

The deaths took the total number of babies under the age of three months to have been killed this year by the infectious disease to 13.

The number of confirmed cases in England and Wales this year is now 7,728.

The HPA said 1,614 cases of whooping cough were reported in England and Wales in October. In 2011, the total number of cases was 819.

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Surge in whooping cough cases in England and Wales

Health experts have expressed their concern over a rise in cases of whooping cough in England and Wales, a disease which can be fatal. Over 3,500 cases have been reported to the Health Protection Agency so far in 2012 compared to 1,118 for the whole of 2011.

Teenagers, young adults and large numbers of babies have fallen victim to the disease recently. Babies have the biggest risk of complications. The HPA said 1,047 instances of whooping cough in England and Wales were reported to it in July alone

This brings the total number of cases so far in 2012 to 3,523 - 235 of these cases affected babies under three months and there have been six deaths in infants up to the end of July, whereas there were only five deaths in the whole of 2008.

New case of Legionnaires' disease

Another case of Legionnaires' disease has been confirmed in Stoke-on-Trent following an outbreak in the city thought to be linked to a hot tub.

The Health Protection Agency said the latest case brings the total to 21. The patient, who is being treated at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire, is a man in his 70s.

Two patients being treated for the disease since the spate of illnesses began in the middle of July have died.

Hot tub may be Legionnaires' source

A hot tub is thought to have been the probable source of an outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease, the Health Protection Agency has said.

Based at JTF Warehouse in City Road, Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent, samples taken from the hot tub were found to have an unusual strain of legionella bacteria, which matched that of the strain taken from patients with the illness.

Dr Sue Ibbotson, regional director of Health Protection Agency, West Midlands, said the organisation has taken histories from those with Legionnaires and 17 of the 18 confirmed cases visited the warehouse in the two weeks before they fell ill. One patient died after being affected by the disease.

Hepatitis C hospital cases rise

Around 216,000 people in the UK are chronically infected with hepatitis C.

A Health Protection Agency (HPA) annual report into the infectious disease revealed an increase in hospital admissions and deaths for End Stage Liver Disease (ESLD) and liver cancer - both of which are related to hepatitis C.

The report, Hepatitis C in the UK, looks at the future burden of hepatitis C-related infections and national progress in tackling the infection. It was produced to coincide with World Hepatitis Day on July 28.

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Mobile science to be kept 'under close review'

There is still no convincing scientific evidence that radiofrequency field exposures from mobile phones and other radio technologies affect human health at exposure levels below internationally agreed guidelines.

However, as this is a relatively new technology, the HPA will continue to advise a precautionary approach and keep the science under close review.

The HPA recommends that excessive use of mobile phones by children should be discouraged and mobile phone-specific energy absorption rates values should be clearly marked in the phone sales literature.

– Dr John Cooper, director of the HPA centre for radiation, chemical and environmental hazards

'No convincing evidence' of mobile damage

There has now been a very large amount of research conducted, which wasn't true 10 years ago, and we have much firmer information than we had on several areas, for instance symptoms, cognitive effects, brain tumours, than we had then," he said.

There is no convincing evidence that radiofrequency exposure causes health effects in adults or in children but beyond 15 years for mobile phones, we have to say we have little or no information.

I think it is important therefore, to some extent, to keep an eye out on this, which we will do into the future."

– Professor Anthony Swerdlow, Chairman of the AGNIR

'Excessive' mobile use by children 'should be avoided'

child on a mobile phone
The report by the HPA has found no compelling evidence that mobile phone use is bad for your health. Credit: Reuters

The Health Protection Agency has revealed that there is "no convincing evidence" that mobile phones cause damage to health, despite an "explosion" in research into the issue in the past decade.

It does however warn against children using mobile phones "excessively" and says they will continue to advise a "precautionary" approach.

'No convincing evidence' mobiles damage health

Mobile phone
The Health Protection Agency reports that evidences still needs to be constantly assessed. Credit: ITV News

Convincing evidence that mobile phones damage health is yet to surface despite an "explosion" in research, according to a new study.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) warns against "excessive" use of mobile phones by children, but said there is no compelling evidence that mobile phones cause brain tumours or any other type of cancer.

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