GET VACCINATED: Health experts have warned residents to be on the lookout for whooping cough symptoms.
GET VACCINATED: Health experts have warned residents to be on the lookout for whooping cough symptoms. Iain Curry

Travelling families urged to look out for whooping cough

PEOPLE who are travelling over the school holidays are being urged to stay alert for symptoms of whooping cough.

Darling Downs Public Health Unit acting director Dr Katie Panaretto said families should watch out for symptoms.

"While there haven't been many whooping cases reported in the South Burnett area this year, with people travelling over the school holidays it's important to be aware of the symptoms to watch for,” she said.

More than 75 cases have been confirmed in the Goondiwindi area in the past month.

Whooping cough can affect people of any age.

"It is quite a 'catchy' germ and is easily spread via the respiratory route, so runny noses and coughing,” Dr Panaretto said.

The infection may cause a persistent cough for teenagers and adults who have been previously vaccinated.

"However, for babies and young children, whooping cough can be life threatening,” she said.

"Symptoms of whooping cough vary but typically start out like a cold with a runny nose with sneezing, tiredness and characteristic coughing bouts developing over several days.”

Dr Panaretto urges anyone who notices these symptoms to go to the GP.

"The pertussis germ is bacterial, so antibiotics work and your doctor will prescribe medicine unlike for viral illnesses where we may wait and see,” she said.

Anyone with these whooping cough symptoms should call ahead to the GP so they can follow any infection control measures.

"In the meantime, even though it's a social season, it's best to stay from others, particularly babies who aren't protected until they have received all their vaccinations at six months of age, and pregnant women,” Dr Panaretto said.

"Wearing a mask to cover the mouth and regular hand washing are also effective to help stop the spread.”

The vaccine for whooping cough is provided through the National Immunisation Program for children and pregnant women.

Children aged two months, four months, six months, 18 months, four years, and between 10 and 15 years can be vaccinated at no cost under the program.

Pregnant women in the third trimester, ideally between weeks 28 and 32 of every pregnancy can also be vaccinated for free.

South Burnett

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