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Kids Health Panui

This e-newsletter has information about child/tamariki health issues for Early Childhood Education Services staff across the Bay of Plenty and Lakes districts.  This newsletter is sent once per term.  If you would like to subscribe, fill in your details here.

29 November 2017

Kids Health Panui

This edition covers whooping cough, molluscum contagiosum, visits to farms and petting zoos, infection control and the preschool public health nursing service.

Rise in whooping cough cases

Toi Te Ora Public Health is seeing a rise in whooping cough (also known as pertussis) cases across the Bay of Plenty and Lakes Districts. 

What is whooping cough?
Whooping cough is an infectious disease caused by bacteria and is spread through the community by coughing and sneezing, in the same way as colds and influenza. Young children, especially babies under six months, can become very ill from whooping cough.  Older children and adults get whooping cough too, which if not diagnosed and treated, may spread to young children.

What are the symptoms?
Whooping cough starts with a runny nose and dry cough. The cough gets worse over the next few weeks, often developing into very long coughing attacks. In babies and children these coughing attacks may end with a ‘whoop’ sound when breathing in, or end with vomiting.

What should be done to help prevent whooping cough?

  • Adult whooping cough immunisation is recommended for all staff working in ECE centres. This is a booster dose given every 10 years. Staff can get vaccinated at their GPs, however, there will be a cost for this.

  • Parents should ensure that their children are up to date with their free routine childhood immunisations which include the immunisations against whooping cough.

  • Whooping cough immunisation is also recommended and free for women in the late stages of pregnancy as this helps protect their baby from getting whooping cough when they are very young and before they can get their own routine immunisations starting at 6 weeks of age.

  • Good hand hygiene is always beneficial and it is important to remember to cover your cough and not to cough on, or near, babies.

If anyone has symptoms of whooping cough they should stay away from the ECE centre and see their doctor for assessment and advice.

If a child or staff member is diagnosed with whooping cough by their GP they need to stay away from the ECE centre until they have completed five days of antibiotics or three weeks have passed since the cough started if they do not take antibiotics. After either of these, they will no longer be infectious even if they still have an ongoing cough.

For more information on whooping cough and immunisation please visit the Toi Te Ora website.

Molluscum contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is a viral skin infection seen most commonly in young to school-age children. It typically causes small, flesh or pink coloured bumps with a shiny appearance. Molluscum can develop on the face, eyelids, trunk, arms and legs, but usually do not involve the palms or soles.  Molluscum bumps are painless, but may be itchy and can last for several months to sometimes years.

What causes molluscum contagiosum?
Molluscum contagiosum is caused by a poxvirus, the molluscum contagiosum virus. There are at least four viral subtypes. There are several ways it can spread:

  • direct skin-to-skin contact;

  • indirect contact via shared towels or other items;

  • auto-inoculation into another site e.g. by scratching.

Transmission of mollusca appears to be more likely in wet conditions, such as when children bathe or swim together. The incubation period is usually about 2 weeks but can be as long as 6 months.

Image credit: DermNet New Zealand

Reducing the spread

Molluscum contagiosum is infectious while active. However, affected children and adults should continue to attend ECE services, school and work.

To reduce the spread:

  • keep hands clean;

  • avoid scratching or shaving;

  • cover all visible lesions with clothing or watertight bandages;

  • dispose of used bandages;

  • do not share towels, clothing or other personal effects;

  • be vigilant for signs of infection as this can lead to scarring (if in doubt consult your child’s GP).

Where practicable it is reasonable to ask the parents to cover all visible lesions with clothing (watertight bandages may be impractical) as the condition can be spread via direct and indirect skin-to-skin contact. 

For further information visit the DermNet New Zealand website.

ECE farm visits and petting zoos

Many ECE services organise class trips to farms and petting zoos.  While these are great opportunities to see animals and the rural lifestyle, care must be taken to ensure adults and children don’t come back with an unpleasant illness. 

Many bacteria and viruses that make people sick are commonly found in the guts and manure of farm animals such as cows, chickens, pigs, sheep and horses.

When visiting a farm:


  • ensure the children wash their hands with soap and water and dry them well after touching animals and before eating;

  • bag up boots and clothing that has animal poo on it – keep poo contained!  And ensure they are cleaned thoroughly afterwards;

  • ensure hands are washed when you leave the farm. If hand hygiene facilities are not readily available, wet wipes or hand sanitiser may be a good alternative.


  • drink raw (unpasteurised) milk;

  • drink water from streams;

  • eat in paddocks, barns, milking sheds, or anywhere else animals are present;

  • kiss the animals.

Infection control

Infectious diseases such as Giardia and Norovirus can spread through ECE centres quite rapidly. This is because of the close contact between people and the under-developed hygiene habits of children.

There are several steps that can be taken to help prevent the spread of infections.

  1. Encourage children to wash their hands after using the toilet, after blowing their nose, after playing with animals, and before they eat. Hand-washing is the best way of preventing the spread of many diseases.

  2. Keep children away from the ECE centre while they are sick. No-one suffering from diarrhoea or vomiting should attend an ECE centre.

  3. Thorough cleaning needs to be carried out on a regular basis with an effective cleaner and a sanitiser.

To protect other children who attend ECE centres, children and staff suffering from vomiting and/or diarrhoea should not attend their ECE centre until they have been free from symptoms for 48 hours, unless the vomiting is known to be caused by a non-infectious condition such as car sickness. Our Health Protection Officers can provide expert advice on how to prevent the spread of infectious diseases - call 0800 221 555.

Preschool public health nursing service

For the Bay of Plenty District

In the Bay of Plenty, ECE services have a Preschool Public Health Nurse (PPHN) available for you to access. We work with children and their families around a wide range of health issues such as behavioural, toileting, developmental and social issues.

We also help children whose needs are not being met by the available services, or who need reconnecting into available services.

You can contact your Preschool Public Health Nurse at Community Health 4 Kids Services on (07) 577 3383 for Tauranga or (07) 306 0944 for Whakatane. You can also make a referral directly to

For further information on this service in the Bay of Plenty please refer to the blue Preschool Public Health Nurse Service Folder in your preschool centre.

For the Lakes district

A registered nurse is happy to take calls and queries regarding health concerns and point preschool teachers in the right direction if she is unable to assist you herself. The phone number for the Preschool Public Health Nurse in Rotorua is 0800 MYNURSE.

You can also contact the Well Child Nurses at Rotorua and Taupo Plunket, Tipu Ora in Rotorua and Tuwharetoa Health Services in Taupo/Turangi.

The aim of the Kids' Health Panui e-newsletter is to provide information about child/tamariki health issues to staff of Early Childhood Education Services (ECE Services) across the Bay of Plenty and Lakes districts. This health information can then be passed on to parents and whanau via your own ECE Service newsletters.

Kids' Health Panui is sent to ECE Services once per term and is brought to you by Toi Te Ora Public Health.  For more information about our service visit our website, Facebook or Twitter.

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Last modified: 29 Nov 2017
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