Health chief: whooping cough rise ‘a concern’

A SPATE of whooping cough cases in Calderdale has been labelled a ‘concern’ by health chiefs.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has reported 22 cases of the highly-infectious disease among children and adults in Calderdale in the past six months – more than half of those cases coming in the past 28 days.

Nine cases have been laboratory-confirmed, four are probable and nine are possible cases of infection.

Whooping cough – or pertussis – is a notifiable condition, where the HPA has to be informed. It is a bacterial disease of the respiratory tract, spread by droplets from coughs or sneezes.

Now health chiefs are urging anyone who has not had the childhood routine vaccination against whooping cough – or the booster – to see a doctor as soon as possible.

Dr Martin Schweiger, consultant in communicable disease control at West Yorkshire Health Protection Unit, said: “The recent increase in pertussis cases we are seeing in Calderdale is a concern.

“The illness can be unpleasant for the majority of people, commonly lasting between six to eight weeks even when treated with antibiotics. However, the infection has the potential to be even more serious for some vulnerable groups in our communities, such as new-born babies and infants.

“It is crucial parents ensure their children are vaccinated against infectious diseases, as this not only serves to protect the individual, but protects vulnerable people in our families and communities who may be at greater risk from these diseases.”

Symptoms of whooping cough:

l Similar to a cold in the disease’s first stage.

l The second stage involves a persistent cough which gets worse at night and can lead to vomiting.

l Not all sufferers will have the characteristic ‘whoop’ which gives the disease its name.

l Those affected should avoid contact with children and babies.