THE number of cases of whooping cough is on the increase, figures show.
There have been 126 confirmed cases so far this year in Southampton, Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Portsmouth, compared with just three in 2011.
Most of these cases – 93 – are in people aged 15 or older, but eight have been reported in children under the age of 12 months.
Whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the lungs and airways.
The condition usually begins with a persistent dry and irritating cough which progresses to intense bouts of coughing. These are followed by a distinctive ‘whooping’ noise which is how the illness gets its name. Other symptoms include a runny nose, raised temperature and vomiting after coughing.
Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, Director of Public Health for Portsmouth, said: ‘Whooping cough affects all ages but this on-going increase has extended to very young babies. It’s this age group that is most likely to suffer severe complications or even death.
‘Whooping cough can spread easily to those who are in close contact, such as family members. Vaccination is the most effective way to protect people from the infection, so it’s really important that parents ensure their children’s vaccinations are up-to-date.’ For more information go to nhs.uk/conditions/whooping-cough/pages/introduction.aspx