Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis

Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis (Whooping Cough) are relatively rare in Australia, largely because of comprehensive childhood vaccination programs. (1, 2, 3).

However, because of a lack of booster shots, as much as half of all adults are not immune to these diseases.

These three diseases have been in a combined vaccine since the 1950s, and immunisation remains the best way to prevent these potentially-devastating illnesses.

What is Pertussis?

Pertussis, also known as ‘whooping cough’, is a highly infectious respiratory infection that causes respiratory distress and even death in severe cases. Symptoms include, severe coughing, often leading to vomiting and breathing difficulties in both infants and adults. Complications such as pneumonia, bleeding, permanent brain and lung damage can occur in severe cases. Babies under the age of 6 months are significantly at risk as they are not protected until their sixth month vaccination schedule is complete. Adults with untreated pertussis are usually responsible for spreading the infection amongst the young.

What is Tetanus?

Tetanus is a type of bacteria present in soils, dust and manure that can enter the body through a cut or wound. Tetanus attacks the nervous system causing muscle spasms in the neck and jaw, as well as the arms, legs and stomach. Tetanus can lead to breathing difficulties, painful convulsions and abnormal heart rhythms often causing death.
Tetanus is rare in Australia due to effective immunisation programs, but can still occur in people who have never been immunised or who have not had booster vaccines.

What is Diphtheria?

Diphtheria is a serious disease caused by bacteria that infects the nose, throat and mouth. The bacteria can spread around the inside of the throat which can lead to difficulty in swallowing and breathing. The bacteria produce a poison which can spread around the body causing serious complications such as heart failure and paralysis. Transmission is often through coughing and sneezing.

Who is at risk?

Booster vaccines are recommended for every working-age adult who has not received a booster in the last 5-10 years. 

Those at increased risk of exposure to any of these diseases can include

  • Emergency service personnel, including police, fire, ambulance and remote rescue
  • Healthcare and childcare workers
  • Those working with soil - landscaping, maintenance
  • Those at risk of skin-penetrating wounds - construction & tradespeople, animal workers

Vaccination is even more strongly recommended for people working or coming into close contact with those who might not themselves be up to date with their vaccinations. This would include people with compromised immune systems, the very young and the elderly, or people managing chronic illnesses.

Immunise for your team against these diseases by booking with Medvet today.

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Tradesmen at work in construction