Home Health Immediate Health Advisory for Children and Adolescents

Immediate Health Advisory for Children and Adolescents

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Urgent Alert: High Incidence of Whooping Cough and Pneumonia Among Children and Teens in NSW

NSW Health has issued a critical warning regarding significant increases in whooping cough and pneumonia cases among children and adolescents, reaching “unseasonably high” levels.

Of particular concern is the recent surge in pneumonia cases, resulting in a substantial rise in emergency department visits statewide, notably among individuals aged five to 16 years. This trend has persisted from April through early June.

Pneumonia, characterized by lung infection and fluid accumulation in air sacs, is predominantly linked to Mycoplasma pneumoniae bacteria, as per the latest NSW respiratory surveillance report. The state is currently overdue for an epidemic, with M. pneumoniae being a common cause of pneumonia in school-aged children, typically occurring in cycles every three to five years. The last epidemic in NSW occurred prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Simultaneously, cases of whooping cough have been steadily increasing since 2023, escalating notably this year. Reported infections have risen to 103.1 per 10,000 people year-to-date in 2024, up significantly from 10.8 notifications per 10,000 people in 2023.

In response to these concerning trends, NSW Health is urging the public to take proactive steps to mitigate the spread of both infections. Simple preventive measures include staying home when unwell, wearing masks in public settings, and practicing rigorous hygiene such as regular handwashing and covering coughs and sneezes.

Additionally, there has been a notable 25% week-on-week rise in influenza cases, with NSW Health anticipating continued high case numbers in the coming weeks. NSW Chief Health Officer Dr. Kerry Chant emphasized the importance of influenza vaccination for individuals over 65 years, noting that current vaccination rates in this age group are below optimal levels at 52.4%.

Dr. Chant underscored, “This is particularly crucial for those aged 65 and over, who face heightened risks of severe illness from influenza. We urge eligible individuals to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their communities.”