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Whooping cough cases continue to be reported in Goondiwindi

12 December 2018

Dr Katie Panaretto
Dr Katie Panaretto.

Cases of whooping cough continue to be confirmed in Goondiwindi, prompting calls for residents to be alert to the symptoms to help stop the spread of the highly contagious respiratory infection.

More than 75 cases have been confirmed in the Goondiwindi area in the past month.

Darling Downs Public Health Unit (DDPHU) acting Director Dr Katie Panaretto said whooping cough, also known as pertussis, could affect people of any age, however most of the recent cases had been in children aged 7 to 12 years old.

"It is quite a ‘catchy’ germ and is easily spread via the respiratory route – so runny noses and coughing," Dr Panaretto said.

"In teens and adults, who have been previously vaccinated, the infection may cause a persistent cough. However, for babies and young children, whooping cough can be life threatening.

"Symptoms of whooping cough vary but typically start out like a cold with a runny nose with sneezing, tiredness and characteristic coughing bouts developing over several days. The illness is usually milder in those who have been vaccinated.

"If you or a family member have these symptoms, it’s important to go to the GP and be tested and treated.

"The pertussis germ is bacterial, so antibiotics work and your doctor will prescribe medicine unlike for viral illnesses where we may wait and see.

"Call ahead to explain you think you or your family member might have whooping cough and follow any infection control measures you’re advised of.

"In the meantime, even though it’s a social season, it’s best to stay away from others, particularly babies who aren’t protected until they have received all their vaccinations at six months of age, and pregnant women.

"Wearing a mask to cover the mouth and regular hand washing are also effective to help stop the spread."

Dr Panaretto said the vaccine for whooping cough was provided through the National Immunisation Program for children and pregnant women.

Children aged two months, four months, six months, 18 months, four years, and between 10 and 15 years (at school), can be vaccinated at no cost under the National Immunisation Program (NIP).

Pregnant women in the third trimester, ideally between weeks 28 and 32 of every pregnancy, can also be vaccinated for free through the NIP.

"Since this program was introduced to Australia, there has been a significant drop in severe disease and deaths from whooping cough," she said.

Last updated: 21 December 2018