Diphtheria is a serious disease that can easily spread from person to person (especially within families) through coughing and sneezing.
It causes a skin infection but can also affect the throat causing breathing difficulties.
Diphtheria was a common cause of death in children until the 1940s. But this disease is now very rare in New Zealand because of immunisation.
This rare but serious disease is caused by bacteria found in soil and manure (horse or cow poo). You can get the disease if dirt carrying this bacteria gets into a wound – for example, if your tamariki gets a cut while playing in the garden.
Tetanus toxins caused by the bacteria act like a poison in your body. Symptoms of tetanus disease include painful muscle spasms, difficulty breathing, chewing and swallowing. In the past, about 1 in 10 people who got tetanus would die from the disease.
Tetanus cannot be spread from person to person. Since we began immunising against tetanus in New Zealand it has become a very rare disease. Almost all cases of tetanus have happened in unvaccinated people.
Whooping cough (pertussis) is a bacteria that causes breathing difficulties and severe coughing fits. The cough can go on for weeks or months which is why it’s sometimes called the ‘100 day cough’.
Having severe whooping cough can lead to pneumonia, seizures, and other neurological (brain) issues. More than half of babies under 12 months old who catch it need to go to hospital, and up to 1 in 50 of these babies die.
It’s very contagious. It can easily spread between family members by coughing and sneezing. It can also spread quickly around early education centres and schools.
Whooping cough is not under control in New Zealand, and when outbreaks occur, it affects thousands of people.
Whooping cough (pertussis)
Polio is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus. Symptoms include headache, diarrhoea, tiredness, and pain in the limbs, back and neck.
In serious cases, it can cause paralysis (muscle weakness) and death. About 1 in 20 hospitalised patients die and up to 1 in 50 patients who survive are permanently paralysed.
In Aotearoa, immunisation against polio started in 1961. Before polio vaccines were available, nearly every person became infected; with babies and young children most affected.
There is no cure for polio – it can only be prevented by immunisation.
Until polio is completely eliminated overseas, there is still a risk of polio being imported into New Zealand.