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NZ whooping cough outbreak concern

27 October 2011 09:32

Concern is growing that a whooping cough outbreak in New Zealand could spread nationwide

Concern is growing that a whooping cough outbreak in New Zealand could spread nationwide

Britons travelling to New Zealand in the coming weeks might want to purchase medical travel insurance after health officials warned that a whooping cough outbreak in pockets of the country could become more widespread.

In September there were 40 cases of whooping cough in Nelson, on the northern tip of the South Island, while 27 cases have been identified so far this month and a further 16 are being investigated, according to Nelson Marlborough District Health Board.

There are also confirmed cases along the west coast of New Zealand and in Hawke's Bay in the North Island. The outbreak has prompted fears that a similar nationwide epidemic to the one in 2004-05 could occur.

Dr Jill Sherwood, Nelson Marlborough District Health Board medical officer, said whooping cough was especially serious for babies who have not yet been immunised.

She went on to say that parents should keep young babies away from anyone with a cough as people who have undiagnosed cases of whooping cough can often infect others in close proximity.

Dr Sherwood said: "See your GP quickly if you are concerned about your health or the health of your child as antibiotics prescribed early in the illness could decrease the seriousness of the symptoms.

"If babies and young children are immunised, they can reduce their chance of this serious and sometimes life-threatening illness."