Dr Marion Poore
A five-fold rise in notified whooping cough cases this
year is not statistically significant, Public Health South
medical officer of health Dr Marion Poore told a Southern
District Health Board committee yesterday.
In July and August, there were 36 whooping cough
notifications in Otago and Southland, compared with seven in
the corresponding time last year.
Member Sandra Cook asked how the public health unit was sure
the number of notifications gave the true picture, as she had
heard of many cases.
Dr Poore said notifications were a snapshot, as some patients
would not visit a GP, nor would GPs notify every case.
However, the district's hospitals were not reporting a big
increase in whooping cough cases admitted, which was another
measure of the problem, Dr Poore said.
Southern's rates were low compared with other parts of the
The South's flu season was also summarised yesterday, with
rates higher this winter than in 2011, a report to the
Some primary schools closed for periods during the six-week
season, while there were high rates in some rest-homes.
The number of the board staff getting the flu jab was also up
this year - 46% compared with 39% last time. Dr Poore pointed
out that that might not be the real number, as some staff got
their vaccination from their GP, rather than at work.
The predominant strain this year, influenza A (H3N2), was
covered by the vaccination.