Whooping cough epidemic in Australia claims life of infant

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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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  • Karen Tippett

    Perhaps the author of this article needs a geography lesson. These events, the district Health Board referred to and the Health Minister are all those of New Zealand, which is not in Australia. The stuff.co.nz article referred to mentions two cities in New Zealand. Australia is never mentioned. I wonder, if these kind of assumptions are common in this blog, and if so it does not give me a lot of faith in anything else posted here.