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NZ: Whooping cough epidemic possible

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  • NZ: Whooping cough epidemic possible

    Whooping cough epidemic possible

    Published: 1:40AM Saturday March 07, 2009
    Source: NZPA

    Health authorities are bracing themselves for an outbreak of whooping cough with one doctor warning of it reaching epidemic proportions.

    Eighteen cases have been reported in the Nelson-Marlborough region in February and three babies were hospitalised in Canterbury.

    Doctors fear that a surge in the number of cases will lead to deaths or brain damage.

    Immunisation Advisory Centre research director Helen Petousis-Harris said Canterbury, Nelson and Marlborough seemed to be the worst affected.

    "We're going to see more babies in hospital during an epidemic, and probably more dying from it," she said.

    A spokesman for Nelson GP, Graham Loveridge, said on Friday the figures were "alarming", and that for every case reported, there were probably as many that were not.

    Nationally, rates of the potentially fatal disease are reported to be higher than at any time in the past six years.