WARNING: Deadly disease cases double in the Wide Bay

WHILE much has been made of the hundreds of flu cases that have struck the Wide Bay in the past few months, another harmful disease has also been on the rise.

Almost double the number of whooping cough cases have been recorded in the region this year, compared to the four-year average.

So far this year, 30 people in the region have tested positive to the disease, compared to the four-year average of 16.

Wide Bay Public Health Physician Dr Margaret Young said while numbers were up compared to the average, cases were still relatively low in terms of historical figures for the region.

"Our strong Wide Bay vaccination rate helps keep whooping cough largely under control, but it never completely goes away and notifications tend to increase slightly every few years," she said.

"It's important that pregnant women, young children and anyone who spends time with young children are vaccinated.

"Everyone, but especially those people who are around children, should be aware of the signs and symptoms of whooping cough.

"It commences with a runny nose, sneezing and tiredness, and over several days a cough develops.

"Characteristically, bouts of coughing occur that end in gagging or vomiting.

"In young babies, breathing can become obstructed and they may become blue or stop breathing. If any of these occur, seek medical attention.

"Antibiotics can reduce the time a person is infectious to others."

The region's flu season is far from over, with 343 cases reported in the past few weeks.

A total of 900 cases have been reported so far this year - five times more than the four-year average of 181.

Dr Young said the season would continue through August and possibly into September and it wasn't too late to vaccinate.

"Vaccination also reduces the risk of hospitalisation and death across all age groups," she said.

"Vaccination is recommended for anyone who wants to reduce their risk of influenza. For eligible at-risk groups the vaccine is publicly funded."

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