Whooping cough warning

HEALTH experts are advising parents to make sure their children are protected against whooping cough as cases have more than doubled across the UK.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has seen a rise in confirmed cases of whooping cough reported in the last last year in the North-East from 40 in 2010 to 69 in 2011.

Nationally, 421 cases of whooping cough were reported to the HPA in 2010 compared to 1,040 in 2011.

Experts say rises in levels of whooping cough are seen every three to four years and figures in 2011 are in line with cases reported in the last peak year of 2008.

Julia Waller, immunisation lead for the HPA in the North-East, said: “In older people, the infection can be an unpleasant illness, but does not usually lead to serious complications.

“However, the illness can be very serious in the very young, particularly babies who are too young to have received the first scheduled dose of whooping cough vaccine, which is offered at two months of age.”

Vaccination is the most important control measure in preventing this disease and children are offered whooping cough vaccine, but it is important that children receive all their doses so that they can build up and keep high levels of immunity to the disease.