A whooping cough outbreak may be imminent one Australian state.
According to the ABC, Western Australian health authorities have warned of the outbreak and urged pregnant women to get vaccinated.
Dr Paul Effler from the Department of Health’s Communicable Disease Control Directorate spoke to the ABC regarding the potential outbreak:
“What we want to do is get to the pregnant women, so they get vaccinated and they pass that protection to the baby in their body and when the child is born then they’re protected when they are most vulnerable,” he said. “We’re not saying the sky is falling. We’re seeing increased whooping cough activity and we want to make sure parents are aware of it, so they can make sure their kids are protected and so that pregnant women get vaccinated to protect that baby when they’re most vulnerable.”
The WA Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has released the statistical rate of weekly whooping cough notifications, showing that there has been a steady increase in the disease over 2015, which the department has linked to a clear indicator of another outbreak being due soon.
The bacterial infection, which is passed on by sneezing and coughing, is always present in Western Australia but outbreaks occur in roughly three to five-year cycles.
ABC news reports that the CDC has issued a warning that newborns will be particularly at risk, with more than 80 per cent of deaths from the disease occurring in children less than three months of age.
Pregnant women are being urged to get vaccinated in their third trimester, so antibodies can be transferred to the baby in utero to protect it in the first few months after birth.
Babies cannot be vaccinated in the first few months.
According to the WA Department of Health, UK studies showed vaccinating women in the third trimester of pregnancy can prevent more than 90 per cent of infections among infants in the first few months of life.
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