Whooping cough cases increase

Whooping cough (Pertussis) a dreaded childhood disease that is vaccine preventable is back. After two doctors in Adelaide tested positive to whooping cough, nearly a 100 adults and children are being given precautionary antibiotics.

Heath officials confirmed that 41 babies and nine adults had come into contact with the doctors at the Women's and Children's Hospital while another 46 patients had contacted one of the doctors at the North Eastern Community Hospital.

According to Medical division director Brian Wheatley those at risk were contacted following a clinical assessment which included all patients treated by the doctors during the infectious period. He also explained that employees from the two hospitals were also being assessed and provided with preventative antibiotics as required. Dr Wheatley informed that both doctors had kept their whooping cough vaccines up to date. But the vaccine did not always prevent infection in all people. “Also immunity from whooping cough infection and vaccination wanes over years,” he said. “That is why booster vaccinations are needed to maintain the best protection,” he explained.

A total of 4,806 cases of whooping cough have been reported in South Australia so far in 2010 compared to 5,250 cases for whole of 2009.

Whooping cough is a highly contagious disease caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. It is known to last for a duration of approximately 6 weeks before subsiding. The disease derives its name from the "whoop" sound made from the inspiration of air after a cough. A similar, milder disease is caused by B. parapertussis. Although many medical sources describe the whoop as "high-pitched", this is generally the case with infected babies and children only, not adults.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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