SA whooping cough cases at a five year high

Parents of babies and young children are reminded to vaccinate themselves for whooping cough (pertussis), with the number of cases at an alarming five year high to date.


There have been 1,447 cases notified this year to date in South Australia, around 160 more cases than at the same time last year and an increase of more than 260 per cent at this time in 2014.


Health authorities believe this number could climb given thirty-five people were reported with whooping cough this week alone.


Children should receive the pertussis vaccine at six weeks, four months and six months, followed by boosters at 18 months, four years old and during high school.


The SA Government provides the vaccine for free for women in their third trimester of pregnancy in order to provide the best protection to newborn babies who are most vulnerable to this disease.


Booster vaccinations are recommended for those people aged 50 and 65 years if they have not received a whooping cough vaccination in the previous 10 years, as well as all healthcare workers, childcare workers, parents, grandparents and carers of infants.


SA Health Chief Medical Officer Professor Paddy Phillips said, "Whooping cough starts like a typical cold, but is usually followed by long periods of dry coughing which can sometimes produce the signature whooping sound.


"The recent cases are a reminder to be vigilant about the spread of germs and for people to cover their nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, dispose of used tissues and wash their hands to reduce the spread of infection.


Vaccination is the best way to prevent the spread of whooping cough, however many people who have had the vaccination don’t realise their immunity wanes over time.


I would encourage all parents to ensure their children are appropriately vaccinated for their age and for those people who spend time with young children to discuss the need for a booster vaccination with their GP.


SA pertussis cases over the past five years








Cases notified to 21 October







Year total 







 *notified cases to 21 October


Whooping cough kills about 250,000 children worldwide every year and many surviving children are left with brain damage. Other serious complications include pneumonia, bleeding into the nose, eyes or brain and the development of hernias.


4 November 2017.