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Whooping cough cases down but not out in Queensland

The number of whooping cough cases has dramatically decreased in the last five years, but Queensland Health experts are warning Queenslanders to stay vigilant and vaccinate.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said the highly contagious respiratory infection had decreased by almost 1000 cases in 2017, and was at the lowest the state had seen in the last five years.

“In Australia, whooping cough epidemics occur every three to four years – and we have not seen a high number of cases since the outbreak in 2008, which continued until 2012, and peaked in 2011,” Dr Young said.

“While we can’t predict when the next epidemic will occur, there is always some level of disease circulating in the community, which is why it’s so important to be vigilant and keep up to date with vaccinations.

Dr Young said vaccination was the most effective way to minimise the risk of whooping cough, with most hospitalisations and deaths occurring in babies younger than six months old.

“For adults and adolescents, whooping cough may only cause a persistent cough – but for babies it can cause serious and sometimes life-threatening health issues,” she said.

“Since July 2014, Queensland Health has funded a free whooping cough vaccination program for pregnant women in their third trimester of every pregnancy.

“A free vaccine is also available for babies at two, four, and six months of age, with booster doses for children at 18 months, four years, and during their first year of high school.

“Minimising the risk of whooping cough and protecting our most vulnerable is everybody’s responsibility, which is why it is so important to keep up to date with vaccinations – which for adults, is every ten years after a booster.”

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

Whooping cough (Pertussis) notifications in Queensland:

Year Annual totals
2017 1,299
2016 2,153
2015 1,861
2014 1,398
2013 3,812

Media contact: +61 7 3708 5376

Last updated: 21 February 2018