South Australia’s Health Minister says we are headed for a whooping cough epidemic with a staggering 42 per cent jump in the number of cases.
Four babies have fallen ill this month, sparking a warning to pregnant women.
It is the heartbreaking sound every parent dreads.
“You only have to see a few short seconds of a little baby who’s suffering from whooping cough to know that that’s an experience you don’t ever want to have to go through,” pregnant mother Jenna Sadauskas said.
Ms Sadauskas is doing everything she can to stop her baby getting whooping cough, heeding the warning from health experts and getting the free vaccine.
“It’s a nasty infection at any stage of life but it’s really serious in infants under six months of age,” Professor Helen Marshall from the Adelaide Women’s and Children’s Hospital said.
In that vulnerable age group the illness can be fatal or cause permanent brain injury.
Twenty four babies have been diagnosed in SA since January last year. In the past three weeks, four babies have fallen ill.
In total, 260 cases have been recorded this year, up 42 per cent on the same time last year.
Health Minister Jack Snelling said there was “a good chance we’re heading towards another epidemic of whooping cough in the next few years”.
A newborn’s only protection is its mother being vaccinated before giving birth.
The maternal vaccines are given to mums to be in their last trimester of pregnancy and can pass over 90 per cent protection to their baby.
And for older children attending play group, the health minister has hinted compulsory vaccines might be on the agenda.
“We will be releasing a consultation bill in that area in the next couple of months,” Mr Snelling said.