Karen lives in St Ives and is a first-time mum to five-month-old Lukas. When she is not a mum, she is the Deputy Chief Legal Counsel at a large public company.
Not too long ago, her son was diagnosed with Whooping Cough, despite being vaccinated. Here, she shares her experience to help others understand how easily this disease is spread and to raise awareness that Whooping Cough is doing the rounds on the North Shore.Whooping cough is real, it’s dangerous to young bubs and you and your child can catch it – and pass it, on even if your child is immunised.
I wanted to share our very recent experience with whooping cough to make people aware of how important it is to seek medical advice if you have young kids or frequent contact with young kids, and you or your child develops a cough.
I recently received a call from my sister with the words you never want to hear – her young son had just tested positive for whooping cough. He had had a bad cough for a week or so but there had been a cold going around with a long lasting cough, so it never occurred to her it would be whooping cough. He was tested because we had all been together at a family gathering a few weeks prior, and another young child at the same gathering was diagnosed two days prior after becoming very ill.
My husband and I tried to stay calm. Lukas (who is five months old) is up to date with his vaccinations and I’m very diligent about keeping him away from anyone with a cough (including his cousin who tested positive). While he had, in the past few days developed a small cough, we put that down to teething or allergies. Sadly, we were wrong. I rushed him to my GP the next day, we were both swabbed and a day later Lukas’ diagnosis was confirmed. I was devastated. Fortunately, I have tested negative but protocol is where there is a positive testing in the household, all members are placed on antibiotics for seven days, after five days you are no longer contagious but you can still develop the cough.
We have had to notify everyone we can think of, with the priority being those with small children. It’s been a horrible message to have to deliver and a terrifying feeling that you may have unknowingly put other people and their children at risk. In addition, when you test positive, the Communicable Disease section of NSW Health calls you – while they are incredibly helpful, it’s not a fun chat. Whooping Cough is a very serious and highly contagious condition.
Regardless of whether you immunise or not, the message from me is treat all coughs seriously when around young kids. Don’t assume a cough is just a cold. Whooping cough is highly contagious and needs to be treated immediately with antibiotics to prevent the spread. If you do immunise, it is important to get boosters every five years.
We still don’t know who patient zero was – it could have been an adult at the gathering, , it may have been the first child to test positive. The incubation period is up to 21 days, so we simply won’t ever know and at this point it doesn’t really matter. I’m just glad I was not complacent and got us both tested immediately so we could start Lukas’ treatment and be alert for any serious complications.
So far Lukas is doing ok. We are in isolation at home for another three days. He’s obviously not well, his sleep has regressed, he has an upset tummy from the antibiotics and of course he has the cough. However, we (and our GP) are hopeful this will be a mild case as I was immunised six months before getting pregnant and he is up-to-date with his jabs.
Since his diagnosis my three-year-old niece and my mother have also both tested positive. Sadly, my two-week-old nephew was also exposed. His parents have another two week wait (the rest of the incubation period) to find out if he has contracted it or not. We are hopeful he will be in the clear but this has been nothing short of a cascading nightmare.
If you want information regarding whooping cough, NSW Health has the most up to date and reliable information.
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