Whooping cough numbers rise across Scotland

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MEDICS are struggling with a 2000% increase in whooping cough cases.

NHS Tayside has confirmed that almost 250 cases were reported between January and July of this year.

Just five cases were reported over the same six-month period in 2011.

 

NHS Fife also revealed a much less dramatic increase with fewer than five last year to 11 so far in 2012.

Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a highly contagious and potentially fatal bacterial infection of the lungs and airways.

It begins with a persistent dry and irritating cough which progresses to intense bouts of coughing.

These are followed by a distinctive ‘whooping’ noise which is how the condition gets its name.

Other symptoms include a runny nose, raised temperature and vomiting after coughing and can last around three months – giving way to its other name of the ‘hundred day cough’.

It can affect people of all ages but is more common in infants under 12-months-old. Babies under six months are at a greatest risk of severe complications.

The total number of whooping cough cases reported across Scotland is 1,100.

 

98% Affected

 

NHS Tayside consultant in public health medicine Dr Finn Romanes said health boards across Scotland are aware of the increase.

He said: “From January to July 2012 there were over 110 laboratory confirmed cases of whooping cough in Tayside compared to fewer than five the previous year.

“There were also a further 130 suspected cases compared with fewer than five at the same time last year.

“Although Tayside has extremely high immunisation rates for whooping cough generally over 98% of the area has been affected by the increase in cases of whooping cough being seen across Scotland in the last year.”

Dr Romanes also said that it is the trend for bouts of the disease to increase every so often but people should take care and seek their GP if they are concerned.

He added: “Cases of whooping cough tend to increase every three to four years. The increase this year may also be due to a higher level of awareness resulting in rise in testing and reporting of the infection.

“People are encouraged to stay up-to-date with their immunisation and seek medical advice and to practice good respiratory and hand hygiene, covering the mouth with a tissue when coughing and washing hands frequently when ill.”

Dr Margaret Hannah, deputy director of public health at NHS Fife said: “Like the rest of the UK, Fife is seeing a rise in whooping cough infection this year.

“If you think your child may have the infection you should seek health advice as early as possible.

“This is particularly important if you have regular contact with a young baby or pregnant women in your home or through work.

“Early diagnosis and treatment can help reduce the spread of infection to others. The mainstay of prevention still remains vaccination – we would encourage all parents to ensure their children are up-to-date with their jags.”

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