Whooping cough an epidemic

A WHOOPING cough epidemic has officially been declared on the New South Wales North Coast, with the number of people diagnosed in the first half of the year five times that for the same period last year.

New South Wales minister of health John Della Bosca said more than 8700 cases had been reported in the first six months of the year, almost the same amount as for all of 2008.

“In the North Coast Area Health Service, there have been 936 notifications to the end of June, compared to around 110 for the same period last year,” Mr Della Bosca said.

“This is a serious illness, which can result in hospitalisation, even death, so new parents, grandparents and any other adult who regularly cares for infants less than 12 months of age should get a free booster.”

NSW Health recommends all children be given the combination vaccine to protect against six conditions, including whooping cough, at two months, four months and six months of age.

“However, parents and GPs are now being urged to bring the first dose forward to six weeks of age to provide earlier protection,” Mr Della Bosca said.

“Symptoms of whooping cough initially can include runny nose, tiredness and mild fever.

“Coughing bouts then develop, followed by a big deep gasp that sometimes produces a whooping sound. Vomiting may follow these bouts of coughing. Adults often just have an ongoing cough, without the whoop.”

Whooping cough is easily spread to other people by droplets from coughing, Mr Della Bosca said.



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