Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough or the ‘100 day cough’, is a very infectious bacterial infection characterized by coughing, and may also be accompanied by vomiting and a whooping sound. Whooping cough can last as long as 3 months and can be particularly dangerous for babies and young children.
Whooping cough is cyclical in nature, with large-scale outbreaks occurring every two to five years. Reports of whooping cough have increased by 108% since last year so it's important to keep an eye out for warning signs. Here are some tips for identifying and preventing whooping cough:
Look out for the following symptoms:
> Cold, runny nose and mild fever and then
> As the breathing tubes become damaged coughing develops, usually in spells
> May be followed by a deep gasp (or ‘whoop’)
> Sometimes the baby or child may vomit after coughing
Visit your doctor if you think that your child has whooping cough. If you have flu or cold like symptoms - keep away from newborns as it is usually spread by coughing or sneezing.
Immunisation is one of the best ways to protect your child against many serious diseases such as whooping cough and babies have the best protection when they are immunized on time. Immunisation is at 6 weeks, 3 months and 5 months, with booster doses at 4 and 11 years.
Whooping cough immunisation during pregnancy helps protect the newborn baby from pertussis while its own immune system develops. This immunisation is available from your GP practice and is funded for pregnant women between 28-38 weeks gestation.
If you have any concerns you can call PlunketLine on 0800 933 922 or the Immunisation Advisory Centre on 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863).