Scenic Rim records a significant upsurge in whooping cough cases

DOCTOR: Beaudesert Medical Centre's GP registrar Dr Tom Newman advised local residents to have a chat with their doctor about whooping cough. Photo: Larraine Sathicq
DOCTOR: Beaudesert Medical Centre's GP registrar Dr Tom Newman advised local residents to have a chat with their doctor about whooping cough. Photo: Larraine Sathicq

PUBLIC Health experts have warned of an upsurge in whooping cough cases within the Scenic Rim.

The Gold Coast Public Health Unit, responsible for servicing areas within the Scenic Rim including Tamborine Mountain and Canungra, has urged all residents to be vigilant for the early signs of whooping cough after it was advised of several cases circulating within the region.

GCPHU confirmed 28 cases of whooping cough (as of August 12) in the Scenic Rim so far this year, a massive increase from the same time last year when only three cases were diagnosed.

Whooping cough is a highly infectious vaccine-preventable disease and tends to occur more prominently in areas where vaccination rates are low.

Beaudesert Medical Centre GP registrar Dr Tom Newman encouraged local residents to get in touch with their doctor to assess their risk, even people who may have objected to vaccination.

"It's never too late to change your mind," he said.

"If you've never had a whooping cough vaccine we can catch you up and we can catch your kids up," he said.

"It's the babies younger than one-year-old who die from this disease but it has usually been passed to them by an adult - and you could be infectious before you even have a cough.

"Because of that, we advise grandparents, parents and anyone who is on contact with small babies or young children to make sure they are up to date on their vaccine."

Dr Newman said boosters were recommended every 10 years for adults not in direct contact with young children and more often for those who were.

Metro South Health public health physician Dr Kari Jarvinen said whooping cough was a bacterial infection that could be deadly for babies and caused a coughing illness among older children and adults.

"Not that long ago the Australian government added extra doses to the vaccine schedule for children, so we now vaccinate at two, four, six and 18-months of age with boosters in pre-school and in year 7 at school," Dr Jarvinen said.

'All pregnant women from 20 weeks are recommended to have the vaccine and to have it again with each pregnancy no matter how close together.

"This offers protection for the unborn baby for the early weeks before they can be vaccinated themselves."

Public Health physician Dr Andre Wattiaux said whooping cough usually began just like a cold.

"Symptoms can be a runny nose, sneezing and a mild fever, then rapidly progress to severe coughing bouts and these can sometimes end with a crowing sound (the 'whoop')," he said.

Dr Wattiaux said treatment was a course of antibiotics which reduced the time a person was infectious to others and could reduce symptoms if given within 21 days of the start of disease symptoms.

For confidential health advice phone 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84).

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