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This section contains media releases released a little while ago. Please note that due to the long time when some of these were released images have been removed and some links might no longer work.

September 23, 2011

Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Update

Parents are urged to keep children home from school or preschool and to stay at home from work themselves, if they develop a persistent cough.

Dr Cheryl Brunton, the West Coast Medical Officer of Health, says the current outbreak of pertussis (whooping cough) which is centred on Hokitika shows no signs of waning, with 18 further notifications in the last week.

The most common age group affected is school-aged children followed by the 40-49 age group, with ages ranging from 14 months to 61 years. Of those affected, two cases have so far been hospitalised with complications from the disease.

Dr Brunton said pertussis is spread by airborne droplets. The best long-term protection against pertussis is still on-time childhood immunisation." Immunised children may still develop whooping cough but it is usually not so severe. Immunisation against pertussis is free as part of the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule at the ages of:

  • 6 weeks
  • 3 months
  • 5 months
  • 4 years
  • 11 years

Immunity does wane with age, so older people can contract pertussis even if they have been immunised as a child. A vaccine is available from general practices that will boost immunity and also lessen the risk of an adult passing the disease on to an unimmunised child. The other steps people can take to help protect themselves and their families against pertussis are:

  • Covering coughs and sneezes
  • Washing and drying hands thoroughly (20 seconds washing and 20 seconds drying) at times throughout the day particularly before eating and after being with someone who is coughing.
  • Staying away from school or work if they are unwell.

"The incubation period for pertussis ranges from 5-21 days. So if someone goes to work, school or pre-school with a persistent cough, by the time they find out they have pertussis the damage has probably been done as far as spreading it to other children and workmates.

"It's really important to see your doctor early if you are unwell with a persistent cough so that you can be assessed and treated with antibiotics if necessary, to help to prevent spread of this disease", Dr Brunton said.


For further information please contact

Bryan Jamieson
Community Liaison Officer
West Coast DHB
PO Box 387
Greymouth 7840
Phone (DDI): (03) 769-7665
Mobile: 027 245-9595
Email: This is not a link as we want to prevent spam.  Please transfer the email address on the image carefully into your email client before sending the email.  You might find, with some older email addresses on this site that they are no longer current, for staff-change reasons.  If your email bounces back please contact the WCDHB Communications Team - see Contacts section of this site.

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