Whooping cough outbreak hits anti-vax hotspot
A WHOOPING cough outbreak has hit the Gold Coast's anti-vax hotspot with rates of the virus more than triple the average for this time of the year.
In the Scenic Rim 24 cases of pertussis (whooping cough) have been confirmed this year, compared to just a handful of cases in the previous three years.
The outbreak concentrated in Mount Tamborine has prompted a health alert from the Gold Coast Public Health Unit to GPs and childcare providers in the area.
An alert has also been issued to a Mount Tamborine school, after a number of students were diagnosed with the potentially fatal cough.
Gold Coast Health would not confirm which school.
According to the latest data from the Australian Immunisation Register, published in March only 88.14 per cent of Gold Coast hinterland children are fully immunised at five years of age, the second worst rate in the state.
At just 12 months of age the full immunisation rate drops to just 78.71 per cent - the lowest for the age group in Queensland.
A spokeswoman from the Gold Coast Public Health Unit said the increase this year is higher than numbers in 2015 when the region saw a major spike at 21 confirmed diagnosis.
"People with confirmed whooping cough should stay home, rest and recover and avoid public places until they have completed a course of antibiotics," the spokeswoman said.
"Vaccination reduces the risk of serious whooping cough illness."
The mother of a Tamborine Mountain State School student said medical centres had been busy dealing with the symptoms.
"There are a few kids at the school who are not vaccinated," the woman said.
"I've had enough. Every week there are three or four more kids coming out of the school sick and they come back to school too early.
"People are walking around pregnant and they are surrounded by kids with whooping cough and they don't even know."
Whooping cough is a highly infectious bacterial infection that can be life threatening for babies and can cause a coughing illness among older children and adults.
It often starts like a cold with a runny nose, sneezing and tiredness over several days, and then the characteristic coughing bouts develop.
For adolescents and adults, the infection may only cause a persistent cough.
However, for babies and young children, whooping cough can be life threatening.
Most hospitalisations and deaths occur in babies less than six months of age.
According to a 2016 report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 1 in 125 babies under the age of 6 months with whooping cough dies from pneumonia or brain damage.