Last year there were 102 confirmed cases of whooping cough in Central Queensland.
Last year there were 102 confirmed cases of whooping cough in Central Queensland.

Whooping cough on the rise in CQ, but decreasing state-wide

MORE than 100 people suffered the highly contagious respiratory infection whooping cough last year in Central Queensland, despite cases dramatically decreasing across the state.

The Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service area - which includes Gladstone and Rockhampton - had its highest number of whooping cough cases in 2017 in four years, with 102 confirmed.

It was up from 66 in 2016, 60 in 2015 and 35 in 2014.

Cases in 2017 in Central Queensland were higher than Mackay (25), Wide Bay (19) and Townsville (43).

State-wide the infection, which can be fatal for babies, decreased by almost 1000 cases and was at the lowest rate in the past five years.

"In Australia, whooping cough epidemics occur every three to four years - and we have not seen a high number of cases since the outbreak in 2008, which continued until 2012, and peaked in 2011," Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said.

"While we can't predict when the next epidemic will occur, there is always some level of disease circulating in the community, which is why it's so important to be vigilant and keep up to date with vaccinations.

Dr Young said vaccination was the most effective way to minimise the risk of whooping cough, with most hospitalisations and deaths occurring in babies younger than six months old.

"For adults and adolescents, whooping cough may only cause a persistent cough - but for babies it can cause serious and sometimes life-threatening health issues," she said.

"Since July 2014, Queensland Health has funded a free whooping cough vaccination program for pregnant women in their third trimester of every pregnancy.

"A free vaccine is also available for babies at two, four, and six months of age, with booster doses for children at 18 months, four years, and during their first year of high school.

"Minimising the risk of whooping cough and protecting our most vulnerable is everybody's responsibility, which is why it is so important to keep up to date with vaccinations - which for adults, is every ten years after a booster."

In Australia the pertussis vaccine is provided in combination with diphtheria and tetanus and is available from all general practitioners.