A female staff member at a Sydney maternity hospital was diagnosed with deadly whooping cough. As a result, around 50 families may have to be given antibiotics as a precautionary measure.
This woman was working at the women and babies facility of Royal Prince Alfred in Camperdown. The Sydney South West Area Health Service had confirmed the diagnosis, last night.
'When diagnosed the staff member ceased all contact with patients and families immediately,' the department said in a statement.
'Clinicians from the hospital have commenced contacting up to 50 families whose babies were cared for or came into contact with the staff member as a precaution, so each can be treated with antibiotics if necessary.'
According to NSW health, the staff member would undergo more tests to give a positive diagnosis. Possibly affected babies will be examined at a clinic, which will be set up in the hospital tomorrow. According to the health service, the worker was fully vaccinated against the contagious disease and had got a booster shot recently.
The bacterium, Bordetella pertusis, is the causative agent of whooping cough or pertusis. It infects the lung, throat and nose. The severe form of the disease is seen in babies and very young children. It can result in pneumonia, brain damage or even death.
Prevention of this disease is possible in adults by vaccination.
Chest cough sounding like a crowing noise or a whoop is the main symptom.
Last Friday, a teenager, Jehan Nassif, died of meningococcal disease in Sydney. The victim's boyfriend, George khouzame was told that she didn't need medication. Her death created a public outcry.