Goondiwindi school closes after more than 60 reported cases of whooping cough

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The St Mary’s Parish School in Goondiwindi has been forced to close one week early due to an outbreak of whooping cough.

The decision was made on Friday after reports of more than 60 students coming down with the infection.

Staff remain at work, until 3pm today. A planned “transition” day for St Mary’s students at the high school on Monday and Tuesday was cancelled.

St Mary’s told parents the decision was made after conferring with Darling Downs Health.

If there are any concerns contact the Goondiwindi Medical Centre.

“While we haven’t been overrun with cases we are  certainly keen to see and discuss the best course of action for those who have symptoms or would like to seek immunisation,” Dr Anna Carswell said.

The outbreak appears not to be wide spread. “The  Darling Downs Health Unit has received 130 notifications for pertussis (whooping cough) this year which is just below (90 per cent) the five-year average,”Darling Downs Public Health Unit Director Dr Penny Hutchinson said.

“Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. It can affect people of any age.

“In teens and adults, the infection may cause a persistent cough. However, for babies and young children, whooping cough can be life threatening,” she said. 

“Symptoms of whooping cough vary but typically start out like a cold with a runny nose with sneezing, tiredness and characteristic coughing bouts developing over several days.

“There is a vaccine for whooping cough which is provided through the National Immunisation Program.

“Since this program was introduced to Australia, there has been a significant drop in severe disease and deaths from whooping cough. Although the vaccine is effective against death and severe disease, especially in the most vulnerable (infants under six months of age), some people who have been previously vaccinated or have had the disease before may still develop the disease. Vaccination is recommended for women early in the third trimester of each pregnancy, people who work in maternity or with young babies every five years and everyone else every 10 years,” Dr Hutchinson said.

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