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Pertussis (Whooping Cough) in Australia (Update)

12 Jan 2012

Pertussis (whooping cough) is an ongoing problem in Australia. The Health Authorities of Western Australia are warning that the state may be facing an epidemic.

A record number of more than 3500 cases were reported in the state last year (2011); more than double the number of cases in 2010. Pertussis notifications peaked in the month of November 2011, with 704 cases. Four babies have died from pertussis in the last four years and the Health Department is urging parents to be prepared for more cases and have their children immunised.

Pertussis epidemics tend to occur every 3-4 years and the last epidemic in Western Australia was in 2004.

Advice for Travellers

Travellers may be concerned either because of risk of contracting pertussis themselves or because, if infected, they may put very young children who are too young to be vaccinated at risk (e.g. grandparents visiting new grandchildren).

Travellers should ensure that all children are up-to-date with the UK vaccine schedule which protects against pertussis. Pertussis boosters are not recommended for adults in the UK.