Record spread of whooping cough in the Czech Republic

More than 3,000 Czechs have contracted whooping cough this year, the highest number since the 1960s, with teenagers most affected, health authorities said.

Doctors have registered 810 cases this week alone, and Prague's 80-year-old mayor, Bohuslav Svoboda, said earlier this week that he had overcome the respiratory illness in recent days.

After he attended a political meeting without a face mask on March 13, the Green Party filed a criminal complaint against him for negligence in spreading an infectious disease.

The state Institute of Public Health reported on its website that since January 1, 3,084 cases of the disease have been detected.

"The disease affects all age groups," the statement said, adding that teenagers were the most affected category.

Matias Fossum, head of the public health department at the Ministry of Health, said the epidemic was probably reaching its peak at the moment.

Chief Health Inspector Pavla Sverchinova said that general measures for the whole country are not being considered at the moment, AFP reported.

Teenagers are most affected, as parents often neglect the recommended revaccination at age 10-11. Older people were vaccinated as children," she added.

Currently, public health experts are discussing the revaccination of adults because of the epidemic, Sverchinova also said.

Vaccination against the disease is mandatory in the EU member state of 10.8 million people, but it is not effective for life and some people refuse to comply.

Fossum said neighboring states are also facing a whooping cough epidemic.

Slovakia's Public Health Service reported that it had registered 123 cases of whooping cough by the end of February.

Before 2020, Slovakia had "tens to hundreds" of cases a year.

In January, Serbian media reported the deaths of at least four children in an outbreak of whooping cough in the capital Belgrade, with doctors blaming insufficient vaccinations for the spread of the disease. /BGNES