Health

HEALTH WARNING: There’s been a spike in number of whooping cough cases in Queensland

There’s been a spike in whooping cough cases in Queensland this year.

A total of 37 cases have been confirmed in the north of the state this year with only 10 reported by this time last year.

Queensland Health and health experts are urging ALL Australians, particularly those in Queensland, to ensure they are up to date with their vaccinations, especially in the wake of the recent outbreak.

Keep reading on how to minimise the risk.

A mother's hand holding the arm of her crying one day old baby boy.

Expected whooping cough breakout

Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr. Jeannette Young said, “We have not seen a high number of cases since the outbreak in 2008, which continued until 2012, and peaked in 2011.”

Young also added that vaccination were the most effective way to minimise the risk, with most hospitalisations and deaths occurring in babies younger than six months old.

In Australia, the pertussis vaccine is provided in combination with diphtheria and tetanus and is available from all general practitioners.

Babies receive a free booster for whooping cough at 6 weeks, 4 months, 6 months and 12 months, with booster doses for children at 18 months, 4 years, and during their first year of high school.

immunisation vaccination

What exactly is whooping cough?

Whooping cough is a highly infectious and dangerous disease and it is especially life threatening for young children. Complications of this disease can cause pneumonia, fits and brain damage from prolonged lack of oxygen.

“Whooping cough is a bacterial infection caused by the organism Bordetella pertussis,” Consultant Paediatrician Dr Scott Dunlop from Sydney Paediatrics tells The Healthy Mummy.

“It is generally transmitted via droplets in the air from one person’s respiratory tract to another.”

What are the symptoms?

Whooping cough classically causes prolonged coughing episodes, with the characteristic “whoop” at the end of each episode, although that is less common the older you get.

There’s an epidemic in Australia, why is this and how can we prevent it?

“This epidemic is due to reduced childhood immunisation numbers, and the waning immunity of adults,” says Dr. Scott.

“The best way to prevent it is for adults who are around children to have a booster, as the childhood immunity wanes over time and for all children to be fully immunised.”

Otherwise avoid those infected, thoroughly wash hands, keep away from newborns when you have a cold, do not sharing plates and cutlery and cover your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing with a tissue (then toss out the tissue and wash your hands).

How do you know if you are carrying it?

Alarmingly, you can be carrying it but not actually infected by it. “Hence why it is easily transmitted to children,” says Dr. Scott.

“Adults can have simple symptoms of a cold, with a cough that just hangs around and wont clear. Many put that down to a viral illness, when in fact it can be whooping cough.”

Thanks for all of this useful information, Dr. Scott! For more articles relating to children’s health, visit our Healthy Mummy Health Archives.

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written by:

Katie Fowler

Katie is a yoga loving writer from Sydney's northern beaches. With a flair for healthy baking you can find her scouring Instagram for the latest take on raw brownies and trolling Pinterest for interior design inspiration!