Thursday April 19, 2012

Health Alert

Whooping Cough Still A Problem

Fraser Health continue to see new cases

Submitted by Louise Henry, Pair Home Design, Chilliwack


raser Health continues to urge all adults who are in regular contact with young children, including pregnant women and their partners, to see their doctor or participating pharmacist and get the free whooping cough vaccine.


Since early December there have been more than 255 cases of whooping cough reported in the region, including more than 45 new cases since the beginning of March. The actual number of cases is likely much higher. Cases were initially confined to the eastern Fraser Valley, but recently cases have been reported in almost all other Fraser Health communities, indicating that the disease is still circulating.

Whooping cough is a very contagious disease that causes severe coughing that may last for months. It can be a very serious illness in young children and babies, who have small airways. More than half of infants less than one year of age who get whooping cough must be hospitalized and in some cases, it is life threatening.

"Fraser Health has distributed over 30,000 doses of the whooping cough vaccine to doctors and pharmacists," said Dr. Paul Van Buynder, Fraser Health's Chief Medical Health Officer. "We continue to see new cases and urge anyone who has or expects to have contact with infants and young children to get vaccinated."

Fraser Health is also encouraging parents to ensure their children are fully immunized and is asking healthcare professionals and the public in all Fraser Health communities to be alert for the signs and symptoms of whooping cough. Early diagnosis and treatment will help prevent the spread of the illness to those most at risk.

The vaccine offers protection for 4-10 years so there are many adults without adequate coverage. Free vaccine is available through doctors' offices and participating pharmacies for all adults and youth who have not had a whooping cough booster in the past five years and who are in regular contact with young children. A list of immunizing pharmacies can be found at:

To check your child's immunization records and make an appointment, if necessary, for childhood immunizations, contact your local health unit here during regular business hours (Monday to Friday, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm).

Whooping cough (pertussis) is a very contagious disease that causes severe coughing that may last for months. Whooping cough spreads easily through the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or laughs, putting bacteria into the air. After the bacteria infect someone, symptoms appear about 7 to 14 days later.

Early symptoms are like those of a cold (sneezing, runny nose, a low fever and a mild cough). But over the next week or two, the cough gets worse leading to longer spells of coughing that often end with a whoop or crowing sound when the person breathes in. The coughing may be so bad that it makes a person gag or throw up. Sometimes a thick, clear mucous is spit out. This cough can last up to a month or two, and happens more at night.

Health care providers are reminded that whooping cough is a reportable condition which requires immediate notification to public health. Doctors should be alert to whooping cough if they see kids or adults with symptoms.

If you/your child develops cold-like symptoms that you think may be whooping cough, you should be examined by a doctor. Call ahead so that you can be seen quickly and not expose other people by sitting in a waiting room for any period of time. You may also be examined in an isolation room (if available) and given a mask to wear, or, arrangements may be made for you to attend the clinic at a time when the waiting room is empty. Bring your/your child's immunization record with you.

For more information, visit:  and at Healthlink here.

Copyright (c) 2012 The Valley Voice