Campaign for Immunisation
A recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald revealed Whooping Cough has been particularly virulent this year and NSW is leading the way to urge parents to have their babies and young children vaccinated after an outbreak tripled the number of infections and has already lead to the deaths for three children in Australia this year. Whooping cough cases are on the rise, with epidemics occurring every 3-4 years. From 2002-2006, there were approximately 41,000 cases of whooping cough in Australia.
The number of people infected nationwide has tripled from 7500 to 27,000 in the past year, NSW Health Minister John Hatzistergos said in a statement. The new campaign urges parents to immunise their children at six weeks old -- two weeks earlier than the current recommendation.
The vaccine booster for babies and young children is highly effective and works by causing the body to produce its own protection against whooping cough. It will not give you or your child whooping cough.
Whooping cough is a highly contagious disease that is caused by bacteria found in the nose and throat of an infected person. It is spread from one person to another through close contact - e.g. when an infected person talks, sneezes, or coughs.
Whooping cough in babies begins with flu-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, sneezing, mild fever, and a mild cough which lasts 1 to 2 weeks. They then develop thick, sticky mucus in the windpipe, which makes it very hard for them to eat, drink and breathe. A baby's lips and nails may turn blue due to lack of oxygen. They may also experience vomiting and gagging episodes after the coughing spells; this can often leave them completely exhausted. The 'whoop' is the loud gasp babies make as they struggle to breathe in through narrowed airway passages between the coughing spasms.
Babies less than six months old who are not immunised or who are not fully immunised, are at highest risk of getting severe whooping cough. This can lead to potentially life-threatening complications including pneumonia, brain damage and even death. Over 83% of those who are hospitalised with whooping cough are less than 1 year old. If you are worried about your baby or young child, you should go to your GP.
For more information: http://www.whoopingcough.com.au/whoopingcough/
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