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Feature Article

Whooping cough: optimising prevention

Anne-Marie Ebdon, Jenny Royle, John Massie

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Abstract

The current Australia-wide pertussis epidemic has seen an increase in hospitalisations of infants with life-threatening pertussis. Action is required to protect these infants who are too young to have received three doses of primary pertussis-containing vaccines.

Key Points

  • Pertussis (whooping cough) is a highly infectious, vaccine-preventable disease.
  • Action is required to protect infants who are too young to have received three doses of primary pertussis-containing vaccines.
  • Vaccination against pertussis does not provide life-long immunity and it is recognised that patients are at risk of clinical pertussis five to 10 years after their last vaccination.
  • Infants younger than 6 months of age with pertussis, or any other child with pertussis who is unwell, should be considered for hospital admission for supportive care to manage complications such as paroxysms, apnoea and feeding difficulties.

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