Increase in whooping cough reminder to get babies immunised

Press Release – Bay Of Plenty DHB

Parents in the Bay of Plenty and Lakes districts are urged to ensure their babies receive their first immunisations on time at six weeks to protect them from whooping cough (pertussis).22 March 2012

Increase in whooping cough a reminder to get babies immunised on time

Parents in the Bay of Plenty and Lakes districts are urged to ensure their babies receive their first immunisations on time at six weeks to protect them from whooping cough (pertussis).

An outbreak of whooping cough started in the West Coast, Nelson and Marlborough last year, and has led to significant increases in the number of cases in Canterbury, Hawkes Bay and Wellington regions in 2012. The number of whooping cough cases in the Bay of Plenty and Lakes districts has been steadily increasing since the start of this year. “Whooping cough tends to occur in outbreaks every three to four years and our rise in cases could be the beginning of a local outbreak,” says Dr Neil de Wet, Medical Officer of Health.

Whooping cough is highly infectious and is caused by bacteria that are spread through the community by coughing and sneezing in the same way as colds and influenza. Symptoms start with a runny nose, fever and dry cough. Coughing gets worse over the next few weeks developing into attacks of coughing and sometimes causes vomiting. The ‘whoop’ sound occurs as a baby or adult draws a breath after a long coughing attack. Babies under one year are most at risk of serious complications from the illness.

“Whooping cough is a preventable disease. Immunisation for whooping cough is part of the routine childhood immunisation programme and we strongly recommend parents get their babies immunised on time,” says Dr de Wet. Whooping cough immunisations are given at 6 weeks, 3 months and 5 months with boosters at 4 years and 11 years of age. “On-time immunisation gives babies the best protection. For parents of older children it’s a good reminder to check they’re up to date with immunisations. It’s never too late to catch up,” says Dr de Wet.

People who work with young children should be especially vigilant in case they develop whooping cough. “If you’re concerned about a cough stay away from babies and young children and talk to your doctor about whether it could be whooping cough,” says Dr de Wet.

Whooping cough immunisation is free for your child. Contact your family doctor or practice nurse for more information or to make an appointment for immunisation.

For more information call 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863) or visit our website www.toiteorapublichealth.govt.nz/whooping_cough

ENDS

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