Following the death of a newborn
baby in Melbourne because of Pertussis
(whooping cough) health authorities in the territory are investigating this spike in the number of cases.
1353 cases were reported since January. Whooping cough is particularly fatal
for infants with the disease claiming one child for every 200 infected
children. In adults it causes symptoms like common cold. But in infants, there may be coughing fits which deprive the
brain of oxygen causing brain damage and even death.
Pediatrician with the immunization
service at the Royal Children's Hospital, Dr. Jenny Royle has urged the Victorians
to be particular about their whooping cough vaccinations because this highly
contagious disease epidemic endangers the lives of babies. As children below
1year of age were most vulnerable to this illness, parents should vaccinate
their little ones with 3-doses at 2-4-6months respectively. A booster dose should
then be given at four years, followed by another at 10years.
Dr Royle said, "It was also vital
for parents of infants and other adults in close contact with babies to have
booster vaccines, because they could be infected without knowing and pass it
on. About half of babies who catch whooping cough probably catch it from a
parent. We certainly can't blame parents for that, it's just the reality of who
babies spend their time with, so we need to make sure we give boosters to
people in contact with babies.'' In Victoria all new parents can get a booster
dose free of cost.