Whooping cough cases spark fears
A DRAMATIC rise in the number of Ipswich whooping cough victims has caused Queensland Health to warn parents of the disease's potential to seriously harm or even kill their child.
The number of whooping cough cases in the Ipswich region has increased 29 per cent during the past three months.
This rise comes despite the region already facing epidemic levels of the disease with an 18 per cent increase in whooping cough victims last year.
Babies exposed to whooping cough are at risk of developing severe health problems such as pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, permanent disability or even death.
Dr Heidi Carroll, a physician from the West Moreton Health Service District, Communicable Diseases Control Services, urged any person who had contact with children to get immunised against the disease.
“Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, is particularly serious in children under two years of age, and hospitalisation is often necessary,” Dr Carroll said.
“It is advisable that parents and grandparents and anyone else who has contact with young babies should be fully immunised against whooping cough in order to protect babies and young children.
“This includes siblings, friends and other family members, and people who work with young babies such as child-care or health-care workers.”
Whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial disease that is preventable by immunisation.
It is transmitted by direct contact with droplets from the nose and throat of an infected person.
In the weeks from December 1 to February 28 there were 111 confirmed cases of whooping cough in the West Moreton Public Health Unit area.
In comparison to the same period in 2010 there were 86 confirmed cases of the disease.
This year there have been 1494 notifications statewide, compared with 1180 at the same time last year.
Around Queensland, the incidence of whooping cough is the worst ever recorded.
Dr Costello said whooping cough often masked its self as a simple cold.
“The illness might begin with cold-like symptoms which progress to a cough, or the child may simply begin coughing,” Dr Costello said.
“After several days, severe coughing fits might cause the child to vomit after coughing or to lose their breath.”
Free pertussis vaccine is available for adults who are in a household with a baby under six months of age, as well as birth parents, foster parents, adoptive parents and grandparents of babies under six months of age.