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Pertussis (whooping cough) cases increasing in NSW

There has been a rise in Pertussis (‘whooping cough’) cases in NSW after circulating at very low levels during the pandemic.

Pertussis is caused by Bordetella pertussis and spreads mainly through respiratory droplets.

Pertussis outbreaks usually occur every few years as population immunity wanes. Notifications of people with pertussis in NSW are starting to increase from a very low level and are expected to increase further.

Infants aged under 6 months are at greatest risk of severe disease, hospitalisation and death.

Consider pertussis and order a PCR test for people with a compatible illness, even if fully vaccinated.

Ensure that all patients are up to date with recommended vaccinations; this is especially important for:

  • pregnant women, who should be vaccinated between 20-32 weeks gestation (ideally at 28 weeks) to provide antibodies to their infant for protection in the first few months of life
  • infants and their siblings
  • adults who care for infants under 6 months who have not received a booster in the last 10 years.