Whooping cough on the rise
The number of whooping cough cases has surged in Manawatu¯ amid a national outbreak of the disease.
There have been eight cases since July, but five of them were in November and medical authorities are urging people to get vaccinated.
The disease is commonly associated with long coughing episodes and it can result in death.
From the start of the year until November 10, more than 1300 cases of whooping cough have been recorded nationwide.
Of these cases, 82 involved babies less than 1 year old. Half of these babies were hospitalised.
MidCentral medical officer of health Craig Thornley said the disease usually started with a runny nose and an irritating cough.
‘‘After one to two weeks it typically progresses to a severe cough in infants and children.’’
The disease could be particularly severe in babies and could result in difficulty feeding and breathing, Thornley said.
‘‘The disease is sometimes known as the 100-day cough because of the length of time it takes to recover from it.’’
The vaccine is funded for all children and pregnant women between 28 and 38 weeks.
The Ministry of Health is warning that the longer immunisations are left, the longer babies are vulnerable to the cough.
And with Christmas and New Year coming up, people need to be extra vigilant as they gather to celebrate, in order to protect young babies, the ministry says.
When pregnant women are vaccinated, they pass their immunity on to their babies, protecting them until they are able to be immunised at 6 weeks of age.
The official declaration of an outbreak comes just days after medical officer of health Dr Andrew Lindsay warned an outbreak was beginning.
Between Tuesday and Wednesday, 21 cases of the cough were confirmed in Nelson and Marlborough alone.
Earlier in November an outbreak had medical staff on Waiheke Island, near Auckland, concerned.
The number of whooping cough cases around Manawatu¯ doubled November.