The national rise in cases on whooping cough is ‘concerning’ according to the director of public health for Cumberland Council.

But despite the rise, Colin Cox said that the disease was ‘largely preventable’ through vaccination.

The UK health security agency (UKHSA) confirmed five babies in England died after being diagnosed with whooping cough in the three months to March.

Meanwhile, in the year to April 21, GPs nationally reported 9,575 suspected cases of whooping cough to the UKHSA.

Not all these cases will be confirmed as whooping cough. The UKHSA, which does not release local data, said there were 2,793 confirmed cases in England in the three months to March.

That compares to just 858 cases for the whole of 2023, while in March alone, some 1,319 cases were reported, according to the provisional data.

Colin Cox, director of public health at Cumberland Council, said: “The increase in whooping cough cases is concerning and the disease can have serious consequences especially for very young babies.

Thankfully, it is largely preventable through vaccination, and our vaccination rates are high - above 95 per cent - providing significant protection for the local population.

“As vaccination is the best form of defence, we will continue to work with NHS colleagues to promote vaccination uptake across the area, and strongly encourage everyone to take up any offers of a vaccine.”

The World Health Organisation says 95 per cent of children should be vaccinated against preventable diseases such as whooping cough.

It comes as cases of the respiratory disease have exploded this year, with the UK Health and Security Authority confirming the number of reported cases in 2024 is more than three times as many as last year.

A leading health expert has warned more babies will die if vaccination rates across the country do not rise.

READ MORE: Regimental veterans come together for Carlisle's Fontenoy Weekend

UKHSA figures show 95.9 per cent of babies in Cumbria had received their six-in-one vaccine by their first birthday, which provides immunisation against a range of diseases including whooping cough.

This was up slightly from 95.4 per cent the year before, but was a drop from 97.6 per cent a decade earlier.

It means Cumbria was one of only 31 areas to reach the 95 per cent vaccination target set by the UKHSA.