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Adult Whooping Cough

Meningococcal disease can turn up in teens. But why should you care?

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Do I have the flu, or is it a cold?

Influenza are a group of viruses (classified as strain A, B or C) that are responsible for the disease we commonly call the ‘flu’.

It is a disease that is spread from person to person during coughing or sneezing or by direct contact with respiratory secretions (e.g. saliva, nasal discharge). It can cause a wide range of disease, from mild to more severe disease that affects many body systems and can result in hospitalisation, other infections (e.g. pneumonia) and even death.

The common cold is also caused by a virus, and also affects the airways, but generally tends to be milder than the flu. Colds do not usually cause serious complications or require hospitalisation.

So is it a cold or the flu? Often testing is required to know for sure, but here are some general ways you can distinguish some of the symptoms:

Sign/symptom Influenza Cold
Symptom onset     Abrupt Gradual
Fever Usual Rare
Aches Usual Slight
Chills Fairly common Uncommon
Fatigue /weakness Usual Sometimes
Sneezing Sometimes Common
Stuffy nose Sometimes Common
Sore throat Sometimes Common
Chest discomfort, cough Common Mild to moderate
Headache Common Rare

Adapted from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


Who is at risk of yellow fever?

Yellow fever generally only occurs in certain parts of Africa and South America. Therefore, people living in these areas as well as unimmunised travellers are at greater risk of infection. 

What are the symptoms of cholera?

In most cases), people infected with cholera show no signs or symptoms of the disease, but the infected person can still remain infectious to others. Symptoms may appear quickly, in as little as 12 hours after initial exposure to the bacterium, or it appear up to five days later.

Symptoms of severe cholera include:

  • sudden onset of painless, but severe, watery diarrhoea
  • nausea and vomiting (early in the illness)
  • severe dehydration (as a result of rapid fluid loss)

In severe untreated cases, death may occur within hours, but with simple treatment, full recovery can be expected.

How do you get whooping cough?

As whooping cough is a highly contagious disease, it can be caught whenever an infected person comes in contact with a susceptible person.

Simply put, whooping cough is spread from person to person through a fine mist of tiny droplets in the air. These tiny droplets are transmitted between people through close contact with an infected person. In an infected person, the tiny droplets contain the bacteria Bordetella pertussis. This bacterium gives its name – pertussis – to the disease we commonly call whooping cough.

If you breathe in the tiny droplets of bacteria, you become exposed to the highly contagious disease. You can also get whooping cough from sharing food or drinks or from close contact like kissing.

What are the risks of not vaccinating my baby?

Your baby’s immune system is not fully developed like older children and adults. Therefore, vaccination is an effective way to protect your baby against certain vaccine-preventable infectious diseases.

By keeping your child up-to-date with their vaccinations, you’re also helping out the community by protecting the more vulnerable people from becoming infected. Many of the diseases we are vaccinating against are rarely seen in Australia anymore, this is because of routine widespread vaccination and surveillance. These diseases do still occur in some parts of the world. If we stopped vaccination and someone was to arrive from overseas with one of these infections, it could easily spread to others.


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