WHOOPING COUGH: Queensland Health wants parents to ensure their children's vaccines are up to date. At least one case a month has been recorded in the Gympie region this year so far.
WHOOPING COUGH: Queensland Health wants parents to ensure their children's vaccines are up to date. At least one case a month has been recorded in the Gympie region this year so far. Contributed

This deadly disease breaks out in Gympie region once a month

AN OUTBREAK of the highly contagious whooping cough in the Gympie region is no worse than in previous years - but the region is reporting one case a month.

CLICK HERE: Free whooping cough vaccine for pregnant mums

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The Sunshine Coast Health and Hospital Service said yesterday there had been 10 cases of whooping cough (or pertussis) reported to Queensland Health for residents of the Gympie Regional Council area this year.

"At least one case has been reported each month this year,” SCHHS physician Dr Andrew Langley said.

"The average number of cases reported by this time of year from 2013 to 2017 for Gympie Regional Council residents is also 10 cases.”

Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection.

It can affect people of any age.

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.

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

Infants at 2 months, 4 months and 6 months of age

Children at 18 months and 4 years of age

Year 7 children (usually given in the School Immunisation Program)

Whooping cough vaccination is also important for pregnant women for every pregnancy, to boost the mother's immunity to protect their newborn until it is old enough to be vaccinated. This vaccine is provided free by the Queensland Government. The best time for pregnant women to be vaccinated for whooping cough is between 28 and 32 weeks gestation.

If you think you have whooping cough:

See your GP - phone ahead to let staff know that you might have whooping cough

Consider calling a nurse for free on 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84).