Australia Whooping cough spike in northern Queensland prompts call for vaccinations

12:23  13 february  2018
12:23  13 february  2018 Source:   ABC News

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A 50 per cent increase in South Australian whooping cough cases prompts the State Government to recommend vaccinations just two months out from patient transfers between the Royal Adelaide Hospital and the new RAH.

Cases of whooping cough are increasing in Oakland County and other parts of Michigan, according to health officials. A health advisory released Wednesday urged residents to watch for signs of the “very contagious” infection, called pertussis.

Babies who are too young to be vaccinated are at a greater risk of dying from whooping cough.© Provided by ABC News Babies who are too young to be vaccinated are at a greater risk of dying from whooping cough. Queensland's peak medical body is urging people to ensure their vaccinations are up to date after a spike in whooping cough cases in northern Queensland, including the recent diagnosis of a high school student.

Parents were notified late last week after the Cairns student was suspected of suffering from whooping cough.

That diagnosis has since been confirmed and is one of 37 cases in the north of the state this year.

Only 10 cases had been reported by this time last year.

Australian Medical Association Queensland Council of General Practice chairman Richard Kidd urged all Australians, particularly those in northern Queensland, to vaccinate against largely preventable diseases in the wake of the recent spike.

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Pregnant women are being urged to get whooping cough vaccinations after a spike in cases of the sometimes deadly infection. A spike in whooping cough cases, including babies, has prompted calls for pregnant SA women to get vaccinated .

Home David Rooney Archives A spike in whooping cough prompts call for parents to immunize their The pertussis vaccine is part of the routine childhood vaccinations that are given at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 18 months old, and again at age 4 to 6 years (before Kindergarten).

"In pre-vaccination times [whooping cough] would kill at least one person in 10, and today sadly we will still see babies that will die because they haven't had the opportunity to get vaccinated," he said.

Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a disease of the respiratory tract caused by bacteria that live in the mouth, nose and throat.

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Whooping cough reached epidemic levels in Washington state in 2012, prompting a call for vaccinations . A Clark County health official repeated just message amid a spike of cases.

Doctors are warning Victorian adults the vaccinations they had as children can wear off so they “The more adults that have the immunisation, the less chance of the bacteria spreading; it’s what we call herd immunity,” Dr Levick said. Originally published as Whooping cough spike sparks jabs push.

While anyone can contract the infection, it is particularly life-threatening for unvaccinated babies, the sick and the elderly.

Dr Kidd said while vaccination was a vital part of reducing the risk of death due to whooping cough, there was no inoculation that could entirely prevent sufferers from contracting the disease, and people who had it as children could contract it again as adults.

"The coughing is so severe people almost want to die ... older adults can certainly break their ribs," he said.

"The closer we can get to a 100 per cent vaccination rate the safer everybody is."

Brian Stopford was literally brought to his knees by coughing fits for months due to whooping cough.

The far north Queensland teacher contracted the debilitating disease five years ago and remembers the pain vividly.

"They call it the 100-day cough and I can vouch for how long it lasts," he said.

"I've never been as sick in my adult life. I lost about 5kg in two weeks because I couldn't eat. I lost my voice completely and getting up was a challenge. I was weak.

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SA whopping cough spike prompts vax call . Pregnant women are being urged to get whooping cough vaccinations after a spike in cases of the sometimes deadly infection.

But Dr. Cherry said whooping cough outbreaks were far less dependent on vaccination rates than measles outbreaks, because the immunity provided by the whooping cough vaccine wears off faster.

"I'd go into a coughing fit that could reduce me to my hands and knees, and there was no [knowing] when it would stop and I could get off the floor. I wouldn't wish it on anyone."

The 37 presentations of whooping cough this year follow a total of 314 confirmed cases in northern Queensland last year.

Tropical Public Health Services (Cairns) director Richard Gair said while this year and last year's numbers had been high, he was not surprised by the spikes.

"We do know whooping cough follows a pattern where we have peaks and troughs over the years, so we're used to seeing a peak every three to four years," he said.

"We often see a difference in the pattern of diseases in different areas of the state. We often see it with flu for example."

Dr Gair said more than half of the people infected this year in northern Queensland were aged 14 years or under.

"We will ask anyone affected not to attend school until they're non-infectious," he said.

The vaccination rate among children in northern Queensland has remained relatively stable over the past three years, indicating a drop in inoculations was not the sole cause of the spike.

Dr Gair said that did not mean parents should become complacent when it came to vaccinations.

"I don't think we can ever completely eliminate transmission [of whooping cough], but we can certainly reduce the number of cases or spikes and reduce the severity of the disease," he said.

"If we let the vaccination rates drop then we could see an increase in serious illness and death from these infectious diseases."

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