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Whooping cough cases on the rise in Darling Downs

March 28, 2024

In March, the Darling Downs Public Health Unit (DDPHU) released a communiqué regarding an increase in pertussis notifications, with regional cases up 170% compared to average, and Queensland experiencing an increase 5 times higher than the average number of cases (year-to-date).

Pertussis (whooping cough) is a respiratory illness caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis. Pertussis can affect people of any age. While the pertussis vaccination greatly reduces the risk of disease, there is still a chance a person could get pertussis even if they are fully vaccinated.

Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN’s West Moreton General Practice Liaison Officer, Dr Tanusha Ramaloo, provided us with some key insights on potential symptoms and what to do if you have them.

“Whooping cough usually begins with cold-like symptoms like a runny nose, sneezing, dry cough, and a fever. People usually get symptoms about 7 to 10 days after getting infected, but it can be up to 3 weeks. Those most at risk are babies under 6 months because they aren’t old enough to be fully vaccinated, people living in the same household as someone with whooping cough, and people who haven’t had a whooping cough booster in 10 years.

Illness is typically less intense for those who have been vaccinated so we encourage vaccination for everyone who is eligible including during pregnancy.”

“If you or a family member notice these symptoms, it’s important that you go to your GP to be tested and treated,” said Dr Ramaloo.


Acellular pertussis–containing vaccine is recommended for:

  • routine vaccination in infants, children and adolescents
  • routine booster vaccination in adults, including those in special risk groups or in contact with a special risk group, such as
    • women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
    • healthcare workers
    • early childhood educators and carers
    • people in close contact with infants
  • vaccination of people who have missed doses of pertussis-containing vaccine.

Learn more about whooping cough, vaccines, and recommendations for vaccination from the Australian Immunisation Handbook.