Warning: Whooping cough spike on Northern Rivers

CASES of whooping cough are eight times the level they were at this time in 2015 across the Northern Rivers, with 169 cases reported so far this year.

North Coast Assistant Public Heath Director, Greg Bell, said an average of 21 new cases of whooping cough were being reported on the Northern Rivers each week.

"The number of cases is still about eight times the number of cases we had last year so there is definitely a spike," he said.

"So whooping cough and getting vaccinated against the illness is something people should be having a look at."

Mr Bell said the most common age group for cases of whooping cough in the region was in nine and 10-year-old children.

"When school is out like it is at the moment you tend to find that it doesn't multiply as quickly because the children are not all in a small incubator like a school," he said.

"So being on holidays has levelled out the numbers a little bit.

"Luckily it has stayed away from the really young infants because they are the ones we are trying to protect."

The only definite way to avoid contracting pertussis (whooping cough), Mr Bell said, was to get vaccinated.

"We are still reminding people to get vaccinated or to try and get their vaccinations up-to-date," he said.

"Pregnant mums in their 28th week should make sure they see their doctor to get their booster because we are trying to get protection via their mother's immune system for their little one.

"If pregnant women are vaccinated then it carries through until their baby is about six to eight weeks old the the child can be put on their own vaccination program.

"The best advice for new mothers is to keep their little one away from the public to avoid getting whooping cough, at least until they get their first shot, or their second shot would be better.

"When mothers do go out with their children in their prams or strollers we advise them to have some sort of physical covering over their babies and not to let people get really close to the child."

Mr Bell said anyone who looks after you children should be vaccinated against whooping cough.

"Whether they work in in child care centres, of they're grandparents, they should make sure they are vaccinated as well," he said.



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