Whooping cough cases in South

Public Health South is keeping a close eye on whooping cough cases, with 24 probable and confirmed cases so far this month.

"These have occurred throughout the district and involve all age groups," medical officer of health Marion Poore said.

"None of the cases has required admission to hospital."

There has been a significant increase in cases nationally, with 2075 confirmed, probable and suspected cases  last year.

Cases had been  trending upwards since November, and last month the Ministry of Health declared a national outbreak of the disease.

"We encourage parents to ensure that all infants and children are vaccinated on time," Dr Poore said.

Whooping cough starts with a runny nose and slight fever for a few days before a persistent cough starts which may have a "whoop" sound. People are infectious for 21 days from the onset of the runny nose and should stay home if they are sick. Meanwhile, Public Health said cases of mumps continued to  occur in the region, with five being notified so far this month.

"The majority of confirmed cases is in the 20-29 age group," Dr Poore said.

Mumps cases continue to appear around the country with the majority in the greater Auckland area.

There was an outbreak in Dunedin last August with 12 cases notified, mainly at the University of Otago.

A further outbreak occurred among Central Otago orchard workers late last year, which health officials believe has been contained.

Mumps is a viral illness passed on by contact with infected saliva through coughing, sneezing or kissing and is characterised by swelling in front of the ear and some discomfort in the jaw.

Vaccination was the best protection against mumps, Dr Poore said.

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