Whooping cough is on the rise in Hawke’s Bay with the local health board warning parents it poses a serious risk for babies and toddlers.
Hawke’s Bay DHB medical officer of health Rachel Eyre said the number of cases notified were slightly above the normal seasonal increase expected for this time of year.
The region has had seven confirmed cases in last three months. This compared to five cases at the same time last year.
“Due to this increase, the DHB has sent out a warning to all early childhood education centres throughout the region and provided information for parents to take home,” Eyre said.
“We are reinforcing the importance of children being immunised on time. Any child with symptoms must be excluded from childcare, especially where there are infants. Pregnant women are also encouraged to have a booster vaccination to protect them against Whooping Cough,” she said.
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There had not been any hospitalisations of sick babies or children with confirmed Whooping Cough yet, she said.
Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a highly infectious bacterial infection spread by sneezing and coughing.
It usually starts with a runny nose and mild fever, followed by cough. The cough can last weeks, and the classic “whoop” is only heard in about half of cases. It can cause severe bouts of coughing, especially in children, which may be accompanied by vomiting and a whooping sound. Most cases of whooping cough occur in adults whose immunity has faded. Adults’ symptoms tend to be less serious.
Outbreaks of the disease occur every 3–5 years. New Zealand’s most recent outbreak began in August 2011, peaking from August 2011 until December 2013, with about 11,000 cases notified (379 new cases per month). A total of 3 deaths in young children occurred during this period.
Rates have reduced since then and currently, there are on average 70 cases per month reported.
In 2011 Hawke’s Bay had 121 cases. In 2012 it had 123 cases.
WHOOPING COUGH: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
* Anyone with a persistent cough should see their doctor, and remain away from school or work until the doctor is sure it is not whooping cough.
* All children should be up-to-date with their whooping cough immunisations and are advised to check with their family doctor. Immunisation is given at six weeks, three months, five months and a booster at age four and 11.
* Boostrix vaccine is also recommended and free for pregnant women between (28-38) weeks of pregnancy to reduce their risk of getting the disease and passing it onto their new born baby. The vaccine provides protection pre and post delivery to mother and up to six weeks post delivery for baby.
* Boostrix vaccine is recommended but not funded for; early child care workers, health professionals that care for young children, families of new born babies.
* Whooping cough is usually characterised by a cough lasting longer than two weeks with spasms of coughing ending in vomiting or difficulty breathing. This is often accompanied by a whooping sound. Don’t wait until someone has had the cough for more than two weeks before checking it out. Adults can also get whooping cough but usually do not have the classical whooping and vomiting after bouts of coughing.