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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Whooping cough at work. Should I worry?

    A work colleague who has been sick for a few weeks has finally been diagnosed with and treated for whooping cough. What are the symptoms I need to look out for in others at work and myself? Can I pass it on to my kids if I myself don't seem to be sick?
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    Dr Carolyn Ee

    Acupuncturist, GP (General Practitioner)

    I'm a Sydney GP with a special interest in women's health especially menopause and TTC ( trying to conceive). I specialise in acupuncture, and am … View Profile

    How worrying for you! Here's some information from the Health Department that might help you.

    Symptoms of whooping cough infection resemble a cold, and usually include a cough, which may not be the characteristic “whooping” cough.

    The incubation period is 7-21 days (typically 14 days) so if you haven't developed cougha nd cold symptoms so far, it is likely you won't develop whooping cough.

    It is unlikely that you will pass it on to your children if you do not have any cough or cold symptoms.

    If it has been more than 14 days since you were first exposed to the person with whooping cough, antibiotics to prevent spread of infection is not indicated, unless you are in contact with “at risk” groups which include babies (less than 1 year old), any child between 12 and 24 months who has received less than three doses of the whooping cough (DTP/Infanrix) vaccine, any women in the last month of pregnancy, and any adult or child who attends or works at a child care facility.

    If this is the case for you, it would be wise to get an appointment with your GP to discuss antibiotic prophylaxis - they can ring to speak to an Infectious Diseases specialist to clarify.

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