Confronting footage shows reality of whooping cough in babies as fears loom of epidemic in New Zealand

Confronting footage shows the warning signs of whooping cough as the deadly infectious disease spreads through New Zealand, killing two babies this year.

The video shows babies persistently coughing and struggling to breathe from the worrying disease - prompting parents to look for the warning signs. 

Newshub understands the two people who've died of whooping cough this year were babies aged just 5 and 7 weeks.

There have been nine cases of the infectious disease, also known as pertussis, in New Zealand this year.

Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand clinical manager Dr William Rainger said the last outbreak in New Zealand was in 2017/2018 with around 4000 people affected and of the babies affected over 50 percent was admitted into hospital.

"It's a very serious illness, particularly for little babies," Dr Rainger told Melissa Chan-Green on AM.

While whooping cough is generally worse in babies, anyone can contract the disease.

In its early stages, whooping cough has very similar symptoms to many other diseases such as a common cold, which is concerning considering it can spread easily.

"Adults who have a persistent cough, an unusually persistent cough should get checked," Dr Rainger said.

Whooping cough causes bouts of coughing which can last for a few minutes and may persist for months. The coughing fits can end in a sound similar to a "whoop" or vomiting. 

Pediatrician Dr Renee Liang said parents should see their GP or local hospital if their baby has trouble feeding because of coughing or difficulting breathing and/or if their baby is lethargic.

Dr Liang urges people to make sure they and their children are up to date with the whooping cough vaccine.

"It's really important that people who are due their vaccination get that on time," Dr Liang said.

The whooping cough (pertussis) vaccination is free for all children and young people aged under 18 years, pregnant people for every pregnancy, all adults at 45 and 65 years of age as immunity reduces.

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