|Whooping cough (also called "pertussis") is a serious disease.
The symptoms of whooping cough include:
- a choking cough, often severe, which may last several minutes
- coughing attacks which end in vomiting
- there may be a high pitched "whoop" sound when the child tries to breathe in after coughing.
This "whoop" is usually heard in older babies and toddlers.
Treatment If you think that you or your child has whooping cough symptoms, you should see your doctor as soon as possible. If it is whooping cough, antibiotic treatment may be offered. Treatment may also be offered to the whole family if there are other children aged less than one year in the family.
The antibiotics do not usually reduce the severity of illness, (they can’t cure whooping cough), but they help prevent whooping cough from spreading if given early enough.
ImmunisationImmunisation is the best way to
prevent whooping cough. Children should be immunised at the ages of six
weeks, three months, five months, 15 months and four years. It is
important to start immunisations at the recommended time because younger
babies are most likely to get serious complications from whooping
Immunisation doesn’t start to give useful protection until at
least three doses have been given.
Immunisation prevents whooping cough in about 80% of children. Protection usually lasts at least several years.
if they have been immunised, some children still catch whooping cough,
but usually do not get as sick.
Because they don’t get it until they are
older, they are much less likely to get the serious complications of
If most children are immunised then whooping cough cannot
spread as easily.
There can be some side effects after
immunisation, including a sore and swollen arm or leg for a few days,
fever, being off food and crying.
The side effects from immunisation are
far less dangerous than whooping cough and happen much less often since
a new (acellular) form of the whooping cough vaccine was introduced in
Chiefs player Fritz Lee’s partner Amy Connell, whose baby is due in July 2013, is a firm advocate for the whooping cough immunisation.
“It’s important to us to be immunised because pregnant women are more susceptible to illness. Having the vaccine ensures we’ve done all that we can to keep each other and our little ones safe.
“We adults can pass whooping cough onto kids without even knowing we have it. My whooping cough vaccine will keep our baby protected for the first five to six weeks before the baby can be immunised,” she said.
Stacey Illingworth with her seven week old daughter Sativah Lammas who has whooping cough.
Read their story
Video: Whooping cough, a baby's struggle