A new study reveals that the source of the majority of infant whooping cough cases is closer to home than we may have thought. Infants, especially those under two months, are less likely to catch the highly contagious disease from visitors and are most likely to catch it from their brothers and sisters.
After the heartbreaking death of Riley Hughes from pertussis in March and with whooping cough cases on the rise across Australia, whooping cough appears to be constantly on the radar and with good reason.
While measures have been put in place to reduce the source of whooping cough, including the Federal Government’s “no jab, no pay, no play” policy set to begin in July 2016, a new study reveals that the disease most often comes from an immediate family member.
When a source of infection can be identified, siblings are the source in 36 per cent of cases, while mothers are the source in 21 per cent and fathers in 10 per cent of cases.
The study, published in the American journal Pediatrics, looked at more than 1,300 infant whooping cough cases in the United States where 25 per cent of the babies were younger than two months.
With this new information, the researchers aim to establish even more pre-emptive measures to put an end to this preventable and dangerous disease.
“Knowing where they’re getting their disease from is important so we can target our approach accordingly,” says lead author Tami Skoff, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.
To minimise the risk of whooping cough in your family, mums-to-be are now encouraged to have a whooping cough vaccination in their third trimester to help protect babies in those first weeks of life when they are most susceptible. As well, sticking to the regular vaccination schedule in older children is critical for all parents, whether expecting another baby or not. It’s also a good idea to ask grandparents and other adults who will have close contact with the baby to be vaccinated.