Epi­demic hits hard

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page - By NI­COLA STE­WART

A na­tion­wide whoop­ing cough epi­demic has hit Waikato hard, with 10 con­firmed cases in Mata­mataPi­ako since the start of the year.

Whoop­ing cough is a highly con­ta­gious bac­te­rial in­fec­tion spread by cough­ing and sneez­ing.

It can cause se­vere cough­ing at­tacks, vom­it­ing and se­ri­ous com­pli­ca­tions, such as pneu­mo­nia and brain in­flam­ma­tion, and is ex­tremely dan­ger­ous for ba­bies and young chil­dren.

Dr Deb­bie Barham said whoop­ing cough should be taken se­ri­ously and she ad­vised any­one who showed symp­toms of the ill­ness to contact the Mata­mata Med­i­cal Cen­tre.

“Over win­ter, we are ask­ing peo­ple to ring in and leave their de­tails,” she said.

“A nurse will call them back and help them to de­cide whether they need to be seen by a doc­tor, or if it is some­thing they can man­age at home.”

Im­mu­ni­sa­tion for whoop­ing cough was im­por­tant, par­tic­u­larly among par­ents and peo­ple in close contact with ba­bies less than one year of age, said Dr Barham.

“Re­ally young ba­bies who aren’t im­mu­nised yet are the ones who tend to get re­ally sick from this. We rely on the fact that ev­ery­one else is vac­ci­nated.”

About 75 per cent of ba­bies who con­tract whoop­ing cough be­fore the age of six months re­quire hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion. Chil­dren un­der 1-year-old who are sick enough to be hos­pi­talised have a one in 200 chance of dy­ing.

Vac­ci­na­tions against whoop­ing cough are given in three rounds, usu­ally when ba­bies are six weeks, three and five months old and fol­lowed by boost­ers when they are four and 11. They are free in New Zealand.

Booster shots for adults are avail­able at any gen­eral prac­tice in New Zealand and typ­i­cally cost around $30.

Im­mu­ni­sa­tion ed­u­ca­tion fa­cil­i­ta­tor Michelle Tan­ner said the Min­istry of Health re­cently rec­om­mended that preg­nant women re­ceive the vac­cine.

“If preg­nant women get the vac- cine, they de­velop the an­ti­bod­ies and pass them on to the baby.”

“This means the baby has some im­mu­nity be­fore they re­ceive their first vac­ci­na­tion.’’

For more in­for­ma­tion on the whoop­ing cough vac­cine contact your lo­cal prac­ti­tioner or visit the Im­mu­ni­sa­tion Ad­vi­sory Cen­tre web­site at im­mune.org.nz.

Get­ting drenched for char­ity: Usu­ally you would as­so­ciate pi­rates with ships but there wasn’t a ship in sight out­side the Mata­mata Fire Sta­tion on Satur­day. The Char­ity Pi­rates made a grand en­trance into Mata­mata on Satur­day in their con­verted fire en­gines with mu­sic pump­ing. Wa­ter fights have been tak­ing place be­tween the pi­rates and mem­bers of the bri­gade for a few years and se­nior fire of­fi­cer War­ren Feek said last year they were caught com­pletely off guard so this year prepa­ra­tion was key. Each year the Char­ity Pi­rates travel throughout the North Is­land ‘‘tak­ing money off the rich and giv­ing it to the needy’’. This year their cho­sen char­ity is the West­pac Air Am­bu­lance.

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