Increased rates of whooping cough in the South Island have authorities reminding parents of the importance of vaccinations.
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a contagious bacterial disease characterised by nasty and persistent bouts of coughing.
The Southern DHB Medical Officer of Health, Marion Poore, told the Otago Daily Times that there had been 174 suspected cases reported in the region and noted that the DHB was urging people to be immunised.
”…In terms of risk, the biggest concern we have is how can we protect our very young babies who have not had the chance to be vaccinated, because they’re not quite old enough,” she said. “Whooping cough can be a very serious illness for those tiny children.”
The University of Auckland’s Dr Kathryn Philipson, speaking to Stuff.co.nz said pertussis is a difficult bug to treat and parents need to be vigilant when it comes to protecting their children. She also noted the potential for the outbreak to become an epidemic and spread throughout the country.
“We know these epidemics come in cycles and in the South Island it is four years since the last one.
“During epidemics it generally takes a while to move around the country so people can be more affected in Otago right now, but in three or six months it could be in Hawke’s Bay or Auckland.”
Further coverage of the outbreak:
Radio New Zealand: Otago whooping cough outbreak spreads
Stuff.co.nz: South Island’s whooping cough epidemic could reach Auckland – study
3 News: Whooping cough outbreak hits South Island
Otago Daily Times: Whooping cough spreads in South