Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

An increase in the incidence of pertussis has been observed in the ACT, with a large number of cases occurring amongst school aged children. A similar increase has been observed in NSW.

Current information on numbers of cases can be found on the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System website. The NSW Health website also contains some important information about preventing the spread of pertussis.

Disease Information

Pertussis is a bacterial respiratory illness which causes persistent bouts of coughing.

Although it is usually not medically serious in school age children or adults, symptoms can last for several weeks.

Infants less than 12 months of age are particularly susceptible to pertussis and can become very unwell if exposed to this infection.

The following steps are recommended to stop transmission of the disease:

  • Anyone with a cough or any other respiratory symptoms should see their General Practitioner (GP) for medical assessment.
  • Any person who is confirmed as having pertussis should be excluded from school/childcare/work/social activities until they are no longer infectious (i.e. have been coughing for more than 3 weeks or have completed five days of an appropriate antibiotic).
  • Immunisation remains the most effective way to avoid pertussis infection. It is important to double check children are fully up to date with their immunisations. A pertussis vaccine is also available for adults via private prescription.

What else can you do to protect your baby?

  • Ensure your baby is vaccinated on time, this can be done from 6 weeks of age.
  • Keep your baby away from anyone with a coughing illness.
  • Ensure everyone in your household is up to date with their vaccinations.
  • Be on the lookout for symptoms of pertussis and consult your GP if concerned (See fact sheet).

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