File photo
File photo Jaimie Duplass

21 cases of deadly infection recorded in Gympie region

PREGNANT women and parents are urged to be aware of the symptoms of whooping cough and ensure they and their children are vaccinated after it was revealed there have been 21 recorded cases of the highly contagious respiratory infection in Gympie this year, most of them children.

Public health physician with the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service, Dr Andrew Langley, said whooping cough bacteria was always circulating in the community.

"There have been 70 cases of whooping cough reported to Queensland Health this year (usually by GPs) for residents of the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service area, which includes the Sunshine Coast (39 cases), Noosa (10 cases) and Gympie (21 cases) council areas,” Dr Langley said.

"These are mostly cases who have sought medical advice and had their infection confirmed by a laboratory test,” he said.

"This count is 25 per cent lower than the average by this time of year (94) from 2014 to 2018.

"In the Gympie region this year, cases have been reported each month. Most cases from the Gympie region this year have been children (13 of 21).”

Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection. It can affect people of any age.

WHOOPING COUGH: Queensland Health wants parents to ensure their children's vaccines are up to date. FILE PHOTO.
WHOOPING COUGH: Queensland Health wants parents to ensure their children's vaccines are up to date. FILE PHOTO. Contributed

For adolescents and adults, the most distinctive symptom may be a persistent cough that occurs after a cold-like illness. However, for babies and very young children, whooping cough can be life threatening. Complications can include pneumonia, fits and brain damage due to lack of oxygen.

Whooping cough is spread though the respiratory discharges of infectious people, for example when they cough and sneeze.

A person who has whooping cough should stay away from others, including work, school, pre-school, child care and social activities, until their doctor says they are no longer infectious.

Treatment may include a course of antibiotics.

The best way to prevent whooping cough is vaccination. Whooping cough vaccination is recommended and free under the National Immunisation Program for infants and children.

Whooping cough vaccine also important (and free) for pregnant women for every pregnancy, to boost the mother's immunity so that their newborn is protected until it is old enough to be vaccinated. The best time for pregnant women to be vaccinated for whooping cough is between 20 and 32 weeks gestation.

If you think you have whooping cough:

  • See your GP - please phone ahead to let staff know that you might have whooping cough
  • Consider calling a nurse at 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84)