Press Release – West Coast DHB
A combination of childhood immunisation, provision of a booster vaccine and seasonal change may be having an effect on the current pertussis outbreak on the West Coast.Media Release
18 November 2011
Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Update
A combination of childhood immunisation, provision of a booster vaccine and seasonal change may be having an effect on the current pertussis outbreak on the West Coast.
For the second consecutive week no new suspected cases of pertussis have been reported from Westland. Elsewhere on the West Coast new cases are still being reported from Grey and Buller districts, generally associated with family or household clusters.
Between 1 May 2011 and 11 November 2011 there have been 291 notifications of suspected pertussis received by Community & Public Health’s West Coast Office. To date, 153 people have been confirmed as having the disease. This is an increase of a further 8 suspected cases on the previous week. The difference between the number of notifications and the numbers of confirmed cases indicates that general practices are being vigilant when patients present with a cough of more than two week’s duration.
This pertussis outbreak is significant with the rate of notified cases on the West Coast continuing to be the highest in New Zealand at 498/100,000. This compares to the next highest rate of 114/100,00 in Nelson Marlborough. Children under the age of ten years continue to have the highest rates of the disease.
“Although the current outbreak may have waned in Westland, it still continues in the Grey and Buller Districts. The best protection against pertussis for babies and children to receive their childhood vaccinations on time,” says Dr Cheryl Brunton, West Coast Medical Officer of Health.
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
Currently a free booster vaccine is available for 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 to help contain the current outbreak of pertussis.
“The vaccine is available through general practices and helps protect those most vulnerable to pertussis – the babies and young children they are in contact with.” says Dr Brunton.
Adults outside those groups can still get the vaccine through their GP and pay for it themselves.
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.