Whooping cough outbreak kills three babies
Three babies died from complications of whooping cough during a national outbreak over 2011 and 2012, according to a new report.
There were 667 reported cases of whooping cough over that time and during the peak of the outbreak in 2012 the number of people affected rose four-fold.
"Of particular concern was the high incidence of severe disease among infants," according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre report.
During both years infants younger than six months were most affected. Since that time, the number of whooping cough cases dramatically fell, with 173 reports in 2013 and 73 in 2014.
"However, the large number of infants notified in both these years continues with 20pc and 31pc of notifications among infants in each."
In nine cases, the source of the infection was identified, Three picked it up from their mother, three from brothers or sisters, one from their father and two from other relatives or visitors.
Babies can be vaccinated against whooping cough and pregnant women between 27 and 36 weeks into pregnancy are also advised to have the jab.
Health officials also recommend vaccination for close family contacts of premature babies as well as healthcare workers in contact with pregnant women or babies whose immune system is low.
The report said babies should be vaccinated promptly at two months of age. Babies are vulnerable to the disease in the first months of life.
Pregnant women should also be reminded to get the vaccine.