Bay of Plenty health authorities are urging people to ensure they are up to date with immunisation ahead of the summer holidays.
Toi Te Ora Public Health Service chief medical officer Dr Jim Miller said outbreaks of whooping cough and mumps in different parts of New Zealand was a timely reminder that people should ensure they are protected.
There has been an increase in the number of whooping cough cases in the Bay of Plenty and across New Zealand this year. Since 1 January 2017, there have been 120 cases of pertussis notified locally to the Medical Officer of Health.
Of these, 82 cases have been in the Bay of Plenty, and 38 have been in the Lakes region. Whooping cough is a highly infectious and distressing illness caused by bacteria that are spread through the community by coughing and sneezing in the same way as colds and influenza.
"Symptoms start with a runny nose, fever and dry cough. Coughing gets worse over the next few weeks developing into attacks of coughing and sometimes vomiting," Dr Miller said.
Babies under one year are most at risk of serious complications from whooping cough. The most effective way to protect babies is for their mother to be immunised during pregnancy (between 28 and 38 weeks) so that antibodies are passed on to the baby.
"It is really important that babies get that first immunisation on time."
Further childhood immunisations are required at 3 months, 5 months, 4 years and 11 years to ensure ongoing protection.
Since September 2016 there have been more than 1000 cases of mumps reported in New Zealand. While most of these cases have been in the Auckland region, holiday travel increases the likelihood of mumps spreading to other parts of the country.
Dr Miller said it was important to check immunisation statuses with a GP or practice nurse before traveling abroad and book in a vaccination if required.
Mumps is very infectious, and spreads from person to person by coughing and sneezing, or through contact with infected saliva. Symptoms appear about 2 to 3 weeks after coming into contact with someone with mumps.
"Vaccination is the best protection against mumps. If you or your children have not had the recommended two MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccinations, we strongly recommend that you get these up to date," Dr Miller said.
MMR is recommended and free for anyone born after 1 January 1969 and is given to children at 15 months and again at 4 years of age.
If you think you may have whooping cough or mumps, phone Healthline on 0800 611 116 for free advice, or see your GP. If you're not sure if you or your family are up to date with immunisations, please contact your family doctor to check. For more information visit www.toiteora.govt.nz/whooping_cough and www.immune.org.nz/diseases/mumps