By Tayla Larsen
The number of whooping cough cases has increased across the Sunshine Coast.
New figures from Queensland Health show 157 people have already been diagnosed with the illness this year.
On average, just 86 cases of whooping cough or “pertussis” are recorded across the region annually.
February saw the highest number of cases at 55 during an outbreak that particularly affected school-aged children in the Noosa area.
Medical professionals say the rate has decreased significantly with fewer than five cases currently being reported weekly.
Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service (SCHHS) public health physician Dr Andrew Langley said locals should not be worried about the high figure as cases fluctuate each year.
“SCHHS area does often tend toward a higher rate of whooping cough notification than the average for Queensland, but it is difficult to identify the reasons with certainty,” he says.
“Lower childhood immunisation coverage in our area may contribute.
“Heightened awareness of the condition in the SCHHS area, due to media interest and Sunshine Coast Public Health Unit’s alerts to general practice, may also contribute.”
Authorities are recommending people instead focus on receiving the whooping cough vaccination to try reduce the spread of the infectious respiratory infection.
Free immunisations are available for infants, toddlers and children as the illness can be deadly to them causing complications like pneumonia, fits and brain damage from lack of oxygen.
Pregnant women are also being urged to get vaccinated.