Whooping cough epidemic in Australia claims life of infant

December 12th, 2012 by | Permalink

Photomicrograph of Bordetella pertussis bacteria which causes whooping cough. Photo via CDC.

With about 5,389 cases of whooping cough in Australia reported in 2012, the country is seeing epidemic amounts of whooping cough (otherwise known as pertussis) cases, according to Ramon Pink, Canterbury District Health Board Medical Officer on Wednesday.

According to Stuff.co.nz, the spread of the disease has involved 52 children under the age of one in Australia this year, most recently claiming the life of a newborn, 6-weeks-old. The baby was likely immunocompromised as a result of being born prematurely. The newborn had been awaiting transfer to a children’s hospital, which was stymied by the infant’s deteriorating health.

A 3-year-old also fell victim to whooping cough earlier this year, having died of the disease after his caregivers failed to get the child immunized.

Minister of Health, Tony Ryall, is now urging all pregnant women to get immunized. About 70 percent of newborns who contract the disease catch it from a family member.

Australia is currently offering free vaccines to pregnant women who are within 28 weeks and 38 weeks of their pregnancy.

Infants vaccinated at 6 weeks, 3 months and 5 months boast the highest level of protection according to Stuff.co.nz.

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