Press Release – Westcoast DHB
The pertussis outbreak currently being experienced continues to infect more people, particularly children on the West Coast. There continue to be fresh cases of pertussis in the Grey and Buller districts. There have been no new cases in the Westland district …23 December 2011
Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Update
The pertussis outbreak currently being experienced continues to infect more people, particularly children on the West Coast.
There continue to be fresh cases of pertussis in the Grey and Buller districts. There have been no new cases in the Westland district in the past seven weeks.
Between 1 May 2011 and 20 December 2011 there have been 390 notifications of suspected pertussis received by Community & Public Health’s West Coast Office. To date, 215 people have been confirmed as having the disease.
Children under the age of ten years continue to have the highest rates of the disease. However, disease rates in children under one year, the age group most vulnerable to severe complications of pertussis, remain low.
“Although the current outbreak may be largely over in the Westland district, it still continues in the Grey and Buller Districts. The best protection against pertussis is 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.
At the moment, on the West Coast, adults in the following groups can still get a free pertussis booster immunisation from their general practice:
• Parents and adults living in the same household as an infant under six months of age
• Front-line healthcare workers in contact with children under the age of one year
• Early childhood education workers.
Those travelling outside the West Coast who are experiencing a persistent cough and visitors to the region need to be mindful of the ongoing pertussis outbreak.
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.