Whooping cough rise downplayed

Dr Marion Poore
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 country.

The South's flu season was also summarised yesterday, with rates higher this winter than in 2011, a report to the committee said.

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.


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