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Whooping cough epidemic on the way.

A WHOOPING cough epidemic is building in New Zealand, expected to peak later this year, with more than double the number of notified cases so far this year. In February this year there were 127 notifications nationally, compared with 48 at the same time last year.

Whooping cough epidemics recur approximately every four years. The last New Zealand whooping cough (pertussis) epidemic was in 1999 to 2001, in which three infants died.

Experts are predicting that the coming epidemic will be particularly nasty, as the notification aim hospital admission rates have not returned to the levels before the last epidemic.

A paediatrician at Auckland's Starship Hospital and associate professor at the University of Auckland, Cameron Grant, says the rates have been rising over the past 30 years and the coining epidemic was expected to be a big one.

Countries with higher immunisation rates such as Australia and the United Kingdom have a much lower incidence of whooping cough than New Zealand. Immunisation is due at six weeks, three months and five months of age, with boosters at 15 months and four years.

Plunket's northern region clinical adviser, Trish Jackson Potter, said when talking one-on-one with mothers with new babies, nurses were stressing the importance of starting immunisation on time and were telling mothers of the coming epidemic. "We are stressing the prevention side, including keeping babies away from adults with a persistent cough, which could be whooping cough."

Mothers could "catch up" if an immunisation had been missed, and Jackson Potter said babies could be immunised even if they had a cough or a cold.
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Title Annotation:news and events
Publication:Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:Jun 1, 2004
Words:265
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