February 23, 2012
Whooping Cough Worsens
Fraser Health re-issues
public warning to wider area
Released by Roy-Thorpe Dorward, FHA
Health is urging all adults and youth 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 140 suspected or confirmed cases of whooping
cough reported in Fraser Health. The true number of cases will be
much greater than this. Cases were initially confined mostly to the
eastern Fraser Valley communities of Hope, Chilliwack, and
Harrison/Agassiz, but recently cases have been reported in several
other Fraser Health communities, raising concern that the outbreak
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.
"The best protection against whooping cough is to get vaccinated,"
said Dr. Paul Van Buynder, Fraser Health's Chief Medical Health
Officer. "The booster shot is especially important for those who
have or expect to have close contact with infants and young
children. The vaccine that most people get when they are children
only offers protection for 4-10 years so there are many adults
without adequate coverage."
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.
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
here during regular business hours (Monday to Friday, 8:30 am -
WHAT IS WHOOPING COUGH (PERTUSSIS)?
Whooping cough (pertussis) is a disease that causes very severe
coughing that may last for months. Whooping cough is very contagious
and can be a severe illness in those without adequate immunizations.
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
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.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU/YOUR CHILD DEVELOPS 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:
www.fraserhealth.ca/whoopingcough or Healthlink BC
© Copyright (c) 2012 The Valley Voice