Press Release – Westcoast DHB
While the number of new cases of pertussis from Westland district has reduced, the number in the Grey district is starting to climb. At this stage all the cases in Grey have a link to Westland.21 October 2011
Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Update
While the number of new cases of pertussis from Westland district has reduced, the number in the Grey district is starting to climb. At this stage all the cases in Grey have a link to Westland.
The school holidays are currently on so there is a chance of further spread with travel and sports events. There has also been an increased rate of pertussis in Nelson-Marlborough in recent weeks.
Immunisation against pertussis is free as part of the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule at the ages of 6 weeks, 3 months, 5 months, 4 years and 11 years.
Older people can contract pertussis and pass it on to others even if they have been immunised or had the disease as a child because pertussis immunity wanes with age.
The free booster vaccine available through general practices for target groups is one measure that will help contain the current outbreak of pertussis says Dr Cheryl Brunton, the West Coast Medical Officer of Health. The people eligible for the free vaccine are adults living in a household with a baby under six months of age, early childhood workers and healthcare workers who have clinical contact with babies and young children. The reason for vaccinating these groups is to protect those most vulnerable to pertussis – the babies and young children they are in contact with. Adults outside those groups can still get the vaccine through their GP and pay for it themselves.
“It’s important to remember that the best protection against pertussis is for all babies and children to receive their childhood vaccinations on time. This is especially important for babies under the age of one, who are the most vulnerable to severe outcomes of contracting pertussis (whooping cough),”
Between 1 May 2011 and 14 October 2011 there have been 231 notifications of suspected pertussis received by Community & Public Health’s West Coast Office. To date, 110 people have been confirmed / probable as having the disease. This is an increase of a further 16 suspected cases on the previous week.
With children due to return to early childhood centres and school after the holidays, parents are urged to keep children home and to stay at home from work themselves, if they develop a persistent cough.
Besides vaccination, steps people can take to help protect themselves and their families against pertussis and other respiratory diseases are:
• Covering coughs and sneezes.
• Washing and drying hands thoroughly (20 seconds washing and 20 seconds drying) at times throughout the day particularly before eating and after being with someone who is coughing.
• Staying away from school or work if they are unwell.