Whooping cough: Five-fold jump in Wales cases up to 185

baby being vaccinated Babies are offered a whooping cough vaccine at two, three and four months of age

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Parents are being warned to vaccinate their children against whooping cough as figures show cases in Wales have increased five-fold so far this year.

Some 185 cases have been reported by the end of September compared to 37 in 2011 and eight in 2010.

Health chiefs say parents should watch out for symptoms such as severe coughing accompanied by a "whoop" sound in young children.

Last month a UK-wide campaign was launched to vaccinate pregnant women.

This is to pass protection on to the child while it is still in the womb.

Health Protection Agency head of immunisation Dr Mary Ramsay said babies of these mothers should still be vaccinated to continue their protection through childhood.

"Parents should also be alert to the signs and symptoms of whooping cough which include severe coughing fits accompanied by the characteristic 'whoop' sound in young children but as a prolonged cough in older children or adults.

Whooping cough cases in Wales

2012: 185

2011: 37

2010: 8

2009: 26

2008: 21

SOURCE: Health Protection Agency

"It is also advisable to keep babies away from older siblings or adults who have the infection."

There have been 10 whooping cough baby deaths in the UK so far this year in what has been called the worst outbreak for decades.

Newborn babies are most at risk of death.

Cases continue to soar with 1,322 people in Wales and England infected in September, bringing the total to 6,121 this year.

The highly contagious disease can affect all ages but can be treated successfully with antibiotics. Most people make a full recovery.

It is spread when a person with the infection coughs and the bacteria is inhaled by someone else.

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