Whooping cough outbreak forces Darling Downs school closure

THE Department of Education has confirmed that St Mary's Catholic School in Goondiwindi has experienced an outbreak of Whooping Cough.

Whooping Cough is a notifiable disease under the Public Health Act.

On advice from the Public Health Physician for Darling Downs Health Services, St Mary's school, which was due to conclude its school year on Wednesday, December 5, will not be open next week and will now re-open from the start of the 2019 school year. 

State schools in Goondiwindi have not experienced the level of infection at St Mary's, but the Department of Education is working with Queensland Health in actively monitoring the levels of incidence across the community.

In adults or adolescents this infection causes a chronic cough with a distinctive whooping sound. In babies and young children the whooping sound is usually not heard and the cough can be life threatening.

Anyone who is not immunised is at risk of catching whooping cough, however, some groups are at higher risk of catching whooping cough or of developing complications:

• Any person who is not immunised (this includes people who have not had a booster vaccine in the past 10 years)
• Infants under six months of age
• Pregnant women
• People over 65 years of age.

A person is infectious for around 21 days from the start of symptoms.

Watch: Baby suffers with Whooping Cough: Five week old baby with whooping cough chokes and struggles to breath during episode.
Watch: Baby suffers with Whooping Cough: Five week old baby with whooping cough chokes and struggles to breath during episode.

If the infected person is treated with antibiotics they will be infectious for the first five days of treatment.

The cough will persist for several weeks, however, once treated with antibiotics the bacteria are killed and the person is no longer infectious.

Children should remain away from school, day care, child care, pregnant mothers and infants under 6 months until they are no longer at risk of spreading the infection to others.

This will depend on if antibiotic treatment has been provided.

To assist in the management of this outbreak, people with any symptoms should immediately consult their medical practitioner.