Whooping cough (also known as pertussis) is a highly contagious bacterial respiratory disease which can be serious especially in vulnerable people such as newborns or adults with existing health conditions.
One infected person can pass whooping cough on to up to 17 unprotected others.
New Zealand is currently experiencing an ongoing national outbreak.
In New Zealand infants are fully immunised against whooping cough at around 5-months of age. Children also recieve boosters at 4 and 11-years as part of the National Immunisation Schedule.Infants aren't fully immunised until around 5-months of age so make sure if you're visiting children under 5-months be sure that you are vaccinated against whooping cough because their protection starts with you.
In healthy adults whooping cough is often difficult to diagnose - you may think you just have persistent cough (often referred to as a 100-day cough).
It can however become more than just annoying, causing complications such as:
• Urinary incontinence
• Rib fractures
And even life-threatening in unprotected newborns and adults with existing health conditions like asthma or COPD. People aged 65 or older are at 4 to 6 times greater risk of being hospitalised due to whopping cough.
Not being protected yourself means you could easily pass on this highly contagious disease without knowing you had it in the first place.