Doctors warn of looming infection outbreak

QUEENSLAND Health experts want parents to remain vigilant in expectation of a spike in whooping cough rates.

Queensland Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeannette Young, said the highly contagious respiratory infection had a four year outbreak cycle and we are due for the next peak soon.

"In Australia, whooping cough epidemics occur every three to four years and we have not seen a high number of cases since the outbreak in 2008, which continued until 2012, and peaked in 2011," Dr Young said.

"While we can't predict when the next epidemic will occur, there is always some level of disease circulating in the community, which is why it's so important to be vigilant and keep up to date with vaccinations."

There have been 17 cases of whooping cough reported in the Darling Downs Hospital and Health network since the start of 2018.

This time last year there had been 14 cased reported with 13 cases over the same period in 2016.

Dr Young said the best way to protect the community was through vaccinations.

"For adults and adolescents, whooping cough may only cause a persistent cough, but for babies it can cause serious and sometimes life-threatening health issues," she said.

"Since July 2014, Queensland Health has funded a free whooping cough vaccination program for pregnant women in their third trimester of every pregnancy.

"A free vaccine is also available for babies at two, four, and six months of age, with booster doses for children at 18 months, four years, and during their first year of high school."

South Burnett

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