Whooping cough outbreak sweeps region

A WHOOPING cough (Pertussis) outbreak is continuing to sweep across the Gladstone region.

There are ongoing reports of the highly contagious respiratory infection, which can be life threatening, running rampant in the Miriam Vale and Agnes Water communities and further afield.

There have been 65 notifications of whooping cough recorded in Gladstone this year.

This is an alarming increase on the 11 notifications recorded for the same period last year.

This dramatic rise in reported cases has prompted a plea by local medical officials for residents to get immunised against this infection, which is capable of causing serious health complications in babies under six months of age.

Speaking with The Observer yesterday, one local medical practitioner said his practice alone had recorded 14 cases in the past four months and a total of 18 for the year.

The medical practitioner said it was an alarming number, particularly considering a number of babies had become ill.

“It's a bit of an epidemic which has been going on for some time now,” the medical practitioner said.

“Whooping cough can be dangerous for a newborn and for that reason a campaign has started to immunise parents of infants.”

Caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis, whooping cough can affect babies, infants, adolescents and adults. For adolescents and adults the infection may cause an irritating, persistent cough which can last up to eight weeks.

However, for babies and young children the infection can be life threatening, particularly for those not fully protected by vaccination.

A Queensland Health spokesperson said during coughing attacks, a baby or child's breathing can be obstructed and they may become blue or stop breathing.

Whooping cough may start like a cold, with a runny nose, sneezing and tiredness, and then the characteristic cough develops.



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