Information for contacts
When you identify a case of pertussis (whooping cough) it's also important to think about other people who may be at risk of developing the infection. These people may need information about whooping cough and a subset may need antibiotic prophylaxis.
Good Practice Tip
The public health unit can help with management of contacts when a case of whooping cough is notified. Public health unit staff can help to identify if your patient has high risk contacts and provide advice on how contacts should be managed. Public health units can also arrange follow up of close contacts at high risk of severe disease. Please refer to the NSW Health Pertussis Communicable Disease Control Guidelines.
A factsheet may be useful to give to:
- Other members of your patient's household
- Your patient's very close friends (for example, people who have repeatedly had more than 1 hour of contact with your patient per day)
- Other children and staff at family day care, childcare or in the same preschool classroom
- Any young children or toddlers who were in contact with your infectious patient for more than 1 hour
- Any pregnant women in the last month of pregnancy who was in contact with your infectious patient for more than 1 hour
- Neonates directly cared for by an infectious patient if they are a health care worker who works with neonates.
- People sharing the same dormitory as your patient (for example, at boarding school)
Antibiotic prophylaxis for contacts
It's important to identify other people who may be at risk of pertussis in whom infection could be severe, as these will require antibiotic prophylaxis to prevent pertussis. These people include:
- any woman in the last month of her pregnancy regardless of her vaccination status,
- all household members if the household includes an infant under 6 months.
The same antibiotics are used for prophylaxis as for treatment of cases.
Antibiotic chemoprophylaxis may be recommended for other contacts too. Please call the public health unit to help follow up contacts, including those in institutions, if your patient:
- has household contacts who meet the above criteria, or
- is a child care worker, or
- is a health care worker.