A Gold Coast school appears to be experiencing an outbreak of whooping cough, with 15 students diagnosed with the highly contagious respiratory infection.
Palm Beach State School and Gold Coast Health are urging parents to keep unvaccinated children, or anyone who may be displaying signs of sickness, at home until the holidays following a spike in recent cases of the infection.
“In order to manage the outbreak, the school has written to parents and carers to request unvaccinated students and those who are currently experiencing symptoms of whooping cough remain at home until the new school term begins,” Staff specialist Professor Paul Van Buynder said.
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Whooping cough, also known as Pertussis, is a very contagious respiratory infection caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. It’s spread by coughing, sneezing, kissing and skin-to skin contact, which could be something as simple as a handshake or hug.
The infection usually begins with cold-like symptoms including a runny nose, watery eyes and fever, however quickly develops into a dry cough that sounds like a “whoop” and can cause vomiting.
Mr Buynder said while whooping cough can be life threatening for babies and young children, it “rarely causes very severe disease in school-aged children.”
He says that the best defence to avoid getting sick is to “ensure that your vaccinations are fully up to date.”
Vaccination against whooping cough is included in vaccinations given at 2, 4 and 6 months, 18 months and at 4 years.
Pregnant women in their third trimester of pregnancy are also eligible for a funded booster dose to further protect newborn babies against whooping cough.