Parents warned of whooping cough diagnosis

UPDATE: A GOODSTART Early Learning Centre Australia spokesperson has confirmed a case of whooping cough at their Rockhampton centre. 

"We are following the advice of public health and are referring anyone who may be concerned to their local GP for further advice," the Goodstart spokesperson said. 

"We have one confirmed case.

"We follow strict safety and hygiene practices in our centres to minimise any risk and ensure the ongoing wellbeing of our children and staff."

EARLIER: STUDENTS in what's thought to be a handful of classes at two Rockhampton primary schools have potentially been exposed to whooping cough after a relief teacher was diagnosed with the serious, contagious respiratory infection.

Parents were alerted to the situation on Wednesday afternoon when Frenchville State Primary School and Mount Archer State Primary School posted statements on their Facebook pages informing them a female casual teacher had advised she had been diagnosed with whooping cough.

The Morning Bulletin understands letters have also been distributed to parents at a couple of other schools and a Rockhampton childcare centre may also be affected.

Director Central Queensland Public Health Unit Dr Kerryn Coleman yesterday confirmed there has been a case of whooping cough locally.

"We are working with the classes involved to ensure parents receive a letter with information," Dr Coleman said.

"Whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial disease which is preventable by immunisation.

"For adolescents and adults, the infection may cause only a persistent cough; but for babies and young children it can be life threatening."

Dr Coleman said the illness was transmitted by direct contact with droplets from the nose and throat of an infected person.

"The illness often begins with cold-like symptoms which progress to a cough," Dr Coleman said.

"Severe coughing fits may end with a high-pitched crowing (the whoop) as air is drawn back into the chest. Coughing episodes are often followed by gagging or vomiting. The cough can last up to three months.

"Anyone with symptoms should see their family doctor. Vaccination is the most important way to reduce whooping cough in our community and provides good protection to young children. It is important to check your child is up-to-date with their immunisations, including against whooping cough."

There have been 22 cases of whooping cough in Central Queensland and Central West Queensland so far this year compared with 28 cases in the same area and time period last year.

A a spokesperson for the Department of Education and Training said they were working with Queensland Health following notification of the whooping cough case.

"No other cases have been confirmed at either of these schools," the spokesperson said. "When someone is confirmed to have whooping cough, they are excluded from school premises until they have written medical clearance from their health care provider.

"Schools have asked parents and carers to monitor their child's health as a precaution.

"On the advice of Queensland Health, schools have distributed a letter and fact sheet to families of the students in classes that may be most affected and notified the wider school community through their school websites and social media."

SYMPTOMS:

 Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis.

 It begins with cold symptoms

 Severe cough in bouts

 'Whooping' sound on inhalation

 Vomiting at the end of a bout of coughing

 Child stops breathing for periods of time and may go blue



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