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Pertussis alert for Darling Downs and South West regions

November 05, 2019

The Darling Downs Public Health Unit has had an increase in the number of notifications for pertussis with outbreaks in several towns. Those affected include both children (mainly of primary school age) and adults. In the majority of cases the children affected it has been at least five years since their last DTPa vaccination.

What can be done now?

  • Have a high clinical index of suspicion for pertussis in children (and others) presenting with a coughing illness – even if they have been fully vaccinated. Many children who have been vaccinated are only presenting with a mild cough.
  • Carry out appropriate diagnostic testing for suspected cases.
    (PCR on nasopharyngeal aspirate or swab – particularly in the first 3 weeks of cough – using a DacronTM or rayon tipped swab, transported dry). NOTE: some doctors are still ordering serology, serology is NOT an appropriate test for acute pertussis due to the impact of vaccination
  • In the interim, the patient should stay at home until the diagnosis of pertussis is excluded. If pertussis is confirmed they need to remain at home until completion of 5 days of a course of appropriate antibiotics
  • Treat cases and provide prophylaxis to appropriate contacts using correct antibiotics.
    (See the attached summary advice, and refer to the National pertussis guidelines for details)
  • Please check the child’s immunisation status on the Australian Immunisation Register and provide catch up vaccination if required. It is important to check that any year 7 students receive their booster dose either through the school immunisation program or as a catch-up
  • Provide pertussis vaccination (dTpa, AdacelTM funded program) to pregnant women at 28-32 weeks of gestation of each pregnancy.
  • Provide booster vaccinations to other adults in contact with young children if more than ten years since their previous dose (as per the Australian Immunisation Handbook).

To read the full alert, click here.

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affecting Health Care practitioners in the Darling Downs and West Moreton Regions: