Cryptosporidiosis infection cases continue to increase in Hawke’s Bay with numbers now reaching nearly 90 in 2013. Medical officer of health Nicholas Jones said ongoing investigations continued to indicate there were multiple sources of infection including swimming pools, person-to-person spread within households and day care centers, and water consumption from untreated water supplies.
The infection is caused by a parasite found in the gut of cattle and other animals. The parasite cyst is passed on to humans through contact with animals, contaminated water or food, or through direct contact with human waste such as when changing nappies. The disease usually causes diarrhea, but children may go off their food and vomit before the diarrhea starts. Diarrhea is often watery and tends to be accompanied by stomach cramps. Symptoms can come and go but have usually stopped within 4 weeks. In rare cases when a person’s immune system is very weak the disease can go on longer and cause complications.
Hand hygiene is the key to preventing spread in households and is particularly important for parents with sick children in nappies. Parents should keep young children away from day care for at least 48 hours after symptoms clear. Anyone who has symptoms and handles food at work should also stay off work for 48 hours after symptoms clear. Anyone with symptoms should stay out of swimming pools for at least two weeks after symptoms disappear. This is because people who have had the illness can continue to excrete cysts that are resistant to chlorine. Larger public pools generally have systems for filtering out crypto cysts, but in pools without microfiltration crypto may survive for weeks.
[ProMED note: Cryptosporidiosis is well known in many parts of the world. It can be transmitted by contaminated drinking water, which seems to be the case here, with outbreaks in multiple locations not all related to swimming pools.]
Pregnant women are being urged to get vaccinated against whooping cough in a bid to protect their unborn children against the potentially fatal disease. New Zealand is in the grip of a whooping cough epidemic, with more than 5000 cases reported in 2012 alone, including two babies who have died.
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, can lead to blindness, brain damage, and in severe cases, death. On 1 December 2012, medical experts said pregnant women can play a role in protecting their children by taking up offers of vaccinations. By vaccinating the mums of unborn babies, we’ve given the mum the opportunity to build some antibodies and to pass these onto her unborn child, said Dannemora Medical Centre head nurse, Gillian Davies.
Figures show that 70% of babies who contract whooping cough in the first few weeks of life, catch it from their parents or other close family members. To combat this statistic four of New Zealand’s District Health Boards - Counties Manukau, Capital and Coast, Canterbury, and Waikato — have begun to administer the vaccine to pregnant women for free. Waikato has been one of the regions worst hit by the whooping cough epidemic.
The full article may be accessed at http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/pregnant-women-urged-get-whooping-cough-vaccination-5252827
The number of Aucklanders suspected of contracting whooping cough continues to rise with 27 new cases reported during the week 21 May 2012. As of 25 May 2012, there were 274 confirmed or probable cases of the infection, according to Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS), up from 247 on 16 May 2012.
“The outbreak is continuing. It’s been with us since the beginning of 2012 and the number of cases is increasing every day,” said Dr. William Rainger, medical officer of health at the ARPHS. “Our response has been to actively follow up on cases to prevent the spread and to protect those most vulnerable.”
Rainger confirmed the newly notified cases are not linked to a Middlemore Hospital midwife who may have exposed up to 170 people. The midwife who contracted the disease was immediately sent home to recover and may have been vaccinated. “It is a sporadic outbreak, which means that it is being spread through the community,” he said.
Rainger said the ARPHS was gathering information on the areas in Auckland where the outbreak was continuing. “Our response has been to actively follow up on cases to prevent the spread and to protect those vulnerable.”
[ProMED note: The diagnosis of pertussis in a midwife could be a major issue since the neonates that the health care deliverer exposed are the exact group with the highest risk of morbidity and mortality from human infection with Bordetella pertussis. Ideally, the neonates should be immune since women in the second or third trimester of pregnancy can be safely vaccinated with the vaccine, giving birth to babies who are protected by transplacentally acquired antibody. Certainly all healthcare workers, especially those with contact with infants less than a year of age, should receive a pertussis vaccine in the form of dTap to further “cocoon” the susceptible infants.]