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Whooping cough outbreak not slowing in Sussex
9:20am Thursday 7th March 2013 in News
Aa outbreak of whooping cough cases across Sussex is showing no sign of slowing.
There have been 71 confirmed cases of the disease in the county since January, which is already higher than the 42 reported over the same period last year.
Health bosses are urging people to make sure their children are up to date with their vaccinations and asking pregnant women to have the jab to protect their unborn babies.
Although the take-up rate for vaccinations in the county is good, the vaccine wears off with age so adults are not protected.
This is believed to be one of the reasons for the outbreak.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) believes the rise in reporting may also be partly down to better awareness among doctors and other healthcare professionals who are ordering more tests and confirming more cases.
At the moment the NHS vaccinates all babies when they are two, three and four months old as part of their “five in one” jabs and then again as part of their pre-school booster.
There has been a national outbreak of whooping cough over the last year. Sussex reported 537 cases in 2012, more than 17 times the number for 2011.
Know the signs
HPA consultant epidemiologist Gayatri Amirthalingam said: "The aim of vaccinating women between 28 and 38 weeks of pregnancy is to offer babies protection against whooping cough in the first few months of life, before they receive their own vaccines.
“It is also important for parents to ensure their children are vaccinated against whooping cough on time, even babies of women who’ve had the vaccine in pregnancy.
"This is to continue their baby’s protection through childhood.
"Parents should also be alert to the signs and symptoms of whooping cough, which include severe coughing fits accompanied by the characteristic ‘whoop’ sound in young children but as a prolonged cough in older children or adults.”
Young infants are at highest risk of severe complications and death from whooping cough as babies do not complete vaccination until they are around four months old.
In older children and adults whooping cough does not usually lead to serious complications.
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