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Warning on whooping cough increase
[Posted: Fri 20/07/2012 by Niall Hunter, Editor www.irishhealth.com]
The number of cases of whooping cough (pertussis) in Ireland has trebled.
According to the HSE's Health Protectiuon Surveillance Centre (HPSC) so far this year, 244 cases of whooping cough have been reported to the HSE, of which 138 (57%) were laboratory confirmed. This is three times the number reported for the same period last year.
In all, 71 people have been hospitalised with whooping cough this year, and three-quarters of these were aged less than six months.
Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing which can make it difficult to breathe.
After a bout of coughing, someone with pertussis often needs to take in a deep breath which results in a 'whooping' sound. Pertussis most commonly affects infants and young children and can be fatal, especially in babies less than one year of age.
The HPSC has stressed that vaccination offers the best protection for young children agaisnt whooping cough.
Parents have beenasked to ensure that their child is vaccinated promptly with the pertussis containing vaccine ('6-in-1' vaccine) at 2, 4, and 6 months of age. A fourth dose is recommended at 4-5 years, at school entry.
A further booster, using Tdap, which contains low dose acellular pertussis vaccine, was introduced to the schools immunisation programme in the 2011/2012 academic year on a phased basis for first year students in second level schools, and it is planned to extend this to all areas from next September.
Children who have never received pertussis vaccines should attend their GP for vaccination, the HPSC has advised.
People who think they or their child may have pertussis are advised to contact their GP for appropriate treatment and stay away from young children and infants until properly treated. Treatment of people who are close contacts of pertussis cases is also an important part of prevention.
See irishhealth.com's Childhood Immunisation Tracker
See also www.immunisation.ie
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