Whoop­ing cough warn­ing

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By DANIELLE STREET

ADULTS are be­ing en­cour­aged to get im­mu­nised against whoop­ing cough as the coun­try’s long­est epi­demic per­sists.

Pa­tri­cia Cross­well is one of more than 1500 Auck­lan­ders di­ag­nosed with whoop­ing cough since the epi­demic started in Au­gust 2011.

The Auck­land res­i­dent says it took al­most two months to re­alise she had the disease.

‘‘I ex­pected to get over this cough, it seemed quite mild but it just didn’t go away,’’ the teacher aide says. ‘‘I just had no en­ergy and I wasn’t up to a full day’s work.’’

The con­di­tion dis­rupted her abil­ity to care for her hus­band, who lives in a nearby nurs­ing home.

‘‘Once the doc­tor said I had whoop­ing cough it just made sense,’’ she says.

Whoop­ing cough, also known as per­tus­sis, is a highly in­fec­tious disease that is spread by cough­ing and sneez­ing. It takes its name from the dra­matic ‘‘whoop­ing’’ sound that chil­dren make when gasp­ing for air fol­low­ing a cough­ing fit.

Mrs Cross­well, like many oth­ers, be­lieved the im­mun- isa­tions she had as a young­ster pro­tected her against the disease.

How­ever Auck­land Re­gional Health Ser­vice per­tus­sis spokesman Michael Hale says im­mu­ni­sa­tion wanes over time.

‘‘Most peo­ple don’t re­alise there is a funded booster for 45 and 65-year-olds,’’ Dr Hale says. ‘‘It’s a good op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple to pro­tect them­selves against the disease, es­pe­cially if they know they are go­ing to be in con­tact with a grand­child or other young peo­ple.’’

Chil­dren un­der the age of one are par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble to whoop­ing cough and 70 per cent who con­tract the disease will end up in hos­pi­tal.

‘‘We are very con­cerned for younger chil­dren be­cause it’s much more se­vere for them,’’ Dr Hale says.

‘‘In adults it’s more of a long, in­con­ve­nient cough. It’s not so life-threat­en­ing, but they can pass it on to the younger ones.’’

Photo: DANIELLE STREET

Run down: It took close to two months be­fore Pa­tri­cia Cross­well re­alised she had whoop­ing cough.

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