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Whooping cough takes hold in SA

Expectant mothers should be especially vigilant during this outbreak.

An alarming outbreak of whooping cough (pertussis), a highly contagious respiratory infection, is rising globally, including in SA.

According to the latest surveillance report from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), SA had 50 confirmed cases of whooping cough in January.

Dis-Chem urges the public to take immediate action and prioritise vaccination to combat this outbreak.
Lizeth Kruger, a Dis-Chem Clinic executive, emphasised the importance of vaccination, stating, “Vaccination serves as a protective barrier and our best defence against the spread of pertussis.

“Parents, siblings, and caregivers are the silent carriers of this infection, unknowingly passing it to infants. Therefore, widespread vaccination is essential to combat this disease and safeguard everyone.”

She advises expectant mothers to be more vigilant during this outbreak.

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“While this vaccine-preventable disease can affect people of all ages, pregnant women are at greater risk due to the natural suppression of their immune systems during pregnancy. Contracting pertussis during pregnancy poses significant risks to the mother and the unborn baby, including severe illness and complications.

Kruger said receiving the Adacel vaccine at 28 to 32 weeks of pregnancy is the best decision expectant mothers could make.

“This vaccine safeguards individuals aged 10 to 64 against whooping cough, tetanus, and diphtheria in just one shot. We recommend getting this vaccine ideally in the second or third trimester of each pregnancy, even if you’ve been vaccinated before,” said Kruger.

Kruger stressed that timely identification of pertussis is crucial to protect public health.

“Early diagnosis saves lives and substantially improves community health outcomes. Individuals suspecting they are infected should consult their pharmacist or healthcare provider immediately. Starting antibiotic treatment without delay is most effective in mitigating the intensity and duration of the illness.”

In addition to getting vaccinated, Kruger recommends practising good hygiene habits, such as regular handwashing and covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

“During the final weeks of pregnancy, it is crucial to avoid close contact with individuals showing symptoms because whooping cough bacteria can spread through airborne droplets,” said Kruger.

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