7 Jun 2012

Whooping cough threatens children

4:47 pm on 7 June 2012

Health officials are urging people with a cough to stay away from babies as a large outbreak of whooping cough affects Auckland and some other regions.

Auckland's medical officer of health says there were 322 cases reported in the five months to 31 May, - five times the number in the same period last year.

One third of the cases were reported in May.

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, occurs mainly in young children and is most serious in babies.

The bacterial disease is highly contagious.

Severe forms can lead to pneumonia, brain damage, convulsions and death.

There have been more than 3400 cases reported nationally since August last year, when the current outbreak began.

Several other districts, including Nelson, Marlborough, Wellington, the West Coast and Hawke's Bay, have been affected.