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Increase in Whooping Cough (Pertussis) cases in Hawke’s Bay

13 April 2017

Increase in Whooping Cough (Pertussis) cases in Hawke’s Bay

Hawke’s Bay health officials are seeing an increase in Whooping Cough (Pertussis) which poses serious risks for babies and children – especially those aged under 1 years.

Medical Officer of Health, Dr Rachel Eyre, said the number of cases notified were slightly above the normal seasonal increase expected for this time of year.

“Due to this increase, the DHB has sent out a warning to all early childhood education centres throughout the region and provided information for parents to take home,” said Dr Eyre.

“We are reinforcing the importance of children being immunised on time. Any child with symptoms must be excluded from childcare, especially where there are infants. Pregnant women are also encouraged to have a booster vaccination to protect them against Whooping Cough,” said Dr Eyre.

“Fortunately, we have not yet had any hospitalisations of sick babies or children with confirmed Whooping Cough, but everyone needs to be aware of the potential dangers and the importance of getting immunised to prevent others from catching this highly infectious bacterial infection.”

Dr Eyre said that on-time immunisation was key to preventing our most vulnerable group of infants from getting Whooping Cough.



What is whooping cough (pertussis)?

Whooping cough is a highly infectious bacterial infection spread by sneezing and coughing. It usually starts with a runny nose and mild fever, followed by cough. The cough can last weeks, and the classic “whoop” is only heard in about half of cases. It can cause severe bouts of coughing, especially in children, which may be accompanied by vomiting and a whooping sound. Most cases of whooping cough occur in adults whose immunity has faded. Adults’ symptoms tend to be less serious.

Can pertussis be prevented?

YES. There is a vaccine which is approximately 85% effective in those who receive it.

Boostrix® immunisation is used for booster vaccination of adolescents and adults to protect against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. It is safe to use in pregnancy.

Newborn infants can gain some protection from whooping cough in the first 6 weeks of life before they begin their own immunisations, through their mother being immunised before birth, as this increases the mother’s antibody levels. Protective antibodies pass through the placenta to the baby, boosting his/her immunity.

Currently, women between 28-38 weeks of pregnancy are eligible for FREE Boostrix®. This vaccine should be repeated with each pregnancy during an outbreak of Pertussis.

It is also very important that babies get immunised on time, so they gain protection against whooping cough as early as possible. The first three immunisations are at 6 weeks, 3 months and 5 months of age. BE WISE IMMUNISE ON TIME EVERYTIME

For further information visit the Ministry of Health’s website at


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