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Friday, August 4, 2017

Whooping cough scare after health memo leak

KUALA LUMPUR: A Health Department memo over the outbreak of the highly contagious whooping cough or pertussis is causing anxiety, especially in Sabah where it is said to be more rampant.
All adolescents and adults are now being encouraged to get booster shots for the bacteria. The memo, believed to be of cases invol­ving two foreigners, has gone viral although Sabah Health Department officials have yet to confirm the cases.
The memo states that the cases were detec­ted at Taman Kota, Kg Sungai in Keningau, about 180kms from here on Aug 2.
Whooping cough is rare among Malaysians who are immunised although cases have been detected among foreigners. According to medical officials, those vaccinated could still contract it.
Malaysian Paediatric Association president Dr N. Thiyagar said some vaccines wear off as children grow older and some countries have recommended vaccinating teenagers for the cough.
“We especially encourage teenagers and the elderly to be vaccinated so they don’t become a source of infection for young children,” he said.
“The elderly are also encouraged to get the jab because their immune system would have weakened and make them susceptible to various infectious diseases, including pertussis.”
He said most pertussis cases he saw were among babies who were too young to be immunised or had not completed the three doses when the infection hit.
Pertussis is a vaccine-preventable disease and routinely given in the national immunisation schedule. In Malaysia, the pertussis shot is given in combination with diphtheria and tetanus and at second, third, fifth month and a booster shot at 18th month.
If a child is infected, the symptoms may range from mild such as prolonged coughs, to severe, where patients may be put on a ventilator and hospitalised for a week or two, Dr Thiyagar said.
He said there have been discussions among health professionals that pregnant women should take the booster shot so they develop antibodies and pass it to their babies.
Dr Thiyagar also said parents should not take babies less than three months old to crowded areas because they are not protec­ted from infections. -star

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