Killer cough hits Wai­heke

Waiheke Marketplace - - Front Page - ROSE DAVIS

A se­ri­ous out­break of whoop­ing cough on Wai­heke is wor­ry­ing med­i­cal cen­tre staff.

Twenty cases of the po­ten­tially fa­tal ill­ness have been con­firmed on Wai­heke in the past month, said Oneroa Ac­ci­dent and Med­i­cal Cen­tre and Pir­i­tahi Hau Ora nurse lead Jayme Ki­tiona.

‘‘It’s a huge in­crease and it’s very con­cern­ing. Nor­mally we might have one case a year, so to have 20 cases in the space of a month is an out­break,’’ she said.

A Wai­heke mother and her new­born baby have been hos­pi­talised with whoop­ing cough over re­cent weeks, Ki­tiona said.

Wai­heke has lower immunisation rates than many parts of Auck­land, be­cause many par­ents choose not to im­mu­nise, said Auck­land Pri­mary Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion child health co­or­di­na­tor Louise Goodall. At eight months of age, 92 per cent of Wai­heke ba­bies are fully im­mu­nised. By the time Wai­heke chil­dren are two years old, only 76 per cent are fully im­mu­nised, com­pared with 94 per cent for both age groups across the health board area.

Goodall, Ki­tiona and Os­tend Med­i­cal Cen­tre nurse lead Deena Mear are en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to take up free immunisation for chil­dren and preg­nant women.

‘‘It can cause res­pi­ra­tory dis­tress and ba­bies can die from it,’’ Mear said.

Older peo­ple are also par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble to the ill­ness, which can cause peo­ple to cough un­til they vomit.

Ki­tiona de­scribed whoop­ing cough as a ‘‘hor­ri­ble dis­ease’’.

‘‘There are long out­bursts of cough­ing with short­ness of breath that can be quite fright­en­ing.’’

Peo­ple who suf­fer fever and per­sis­tent cough­ing, pos­si­bly with a whoop­ing sound, need to see a doc­tor. The dis­ease re­mains con­ta­gious for 21 days or un­til an­tibi­otics are taken.

‘‘We’re con­cerned be­cause we’ve got a high num­ber of cases and it’s a highly in­fec­tious dis- ease. It’s air­borne and its spread through cough­ing and sneez­ing,’’ Ki­tiona said.

Chil­dren at Wai­heke schools have been di­ag­nosed with whoop­ing cough over re­cent weeks and it is be­gin­ning to ap­pear among chil­dren in day care cen­tres, Ki­tiona and Mear said.

Goodall said there is also a se­ri­ous mumps out­break in Auck­land. The low immunisation rate for Wai­heke two year olds is a con­cern for both whoop­ing cough and mumps.

Med­i­cal cen­tre lead nurse Jayme Ki­tiona is con­cerned whoop­ing cough could spread fur­ther. ROSE DAVIS/STUFF

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