A 25 per cent increase in whooping cough outbreaks at schools across the state – with 14 serious cases in the southeast in the past two months alone.
A 25 per cent increase in whooping cough outbreaks at schools across the state – with 14 serious cases in the southeast in the past two months alone. scyther5

Whooping cough outbreaks set to worsen

WHOOPING cough outbreaks at schools across the state have health authorities warning Queenslanders to make sure their vaccinations are up-to-date.

Queensland Health has been notified of 14 outbreaks in schools in the Gold Coast, Darling Downs and north Brisbane areas in the past two months, some of which are still ongoing.

There has been 1595 notifications of whooping cough across the state, a 25 percent increase on notifications from the same time last year.

Communicable Diseases Branch acting executive director Dr Heidi Carroll said whooping cough epidemics generally occur every three to four years.

"It's certainly not as high as we've seen in the last decade, but it's tracking upwards, which is why it's important to ensure you and your children's whooping cough vaccinations are up-to-date," she said.

The warning comes less than 24 hours after authorities warned a summer flu was causing an alarming surge in out-of-season cases.

More than 1700 Queenslanders were last month confirmed with influenza, nearly double the cases reported during the same period for the past five years.

Dr Carroll said vaccination was the most effective way to minimise the risk of whooping cough, with most hospitalisations and deaths occurring in babies younger than six months of age.

"For adults and adolescents, whooping cough may only cause a persistent cough - but for babies it can cause serious and sometimes life-threatening health issues," she said.

"One of the best ways to protect infants from whooping cough is for their mother to be vaccinated during pregnancy."

Whooping cough vaccine for pregnant women is free under the National Immunisation Program and recommended in the third trimester of each pregnancy.

The childhood schedule includes whooping cough vaccines for babies at two, four, and six months of age, with booster doses for children at 18 months, four years, and in year 7.