Thursday January 19,
Whooping Cough Spreads
Health says even laughing can pass on the virus
Released by Roy Thorpe-Dorward
Health is asking healthcare professionals and the public in eastern Fraser
Valley communities to be alert for the signs and symptoms of pertussis or
Since August, there have been more than 80 cases of whooping cough reported
in the Hope region. Recently, cases have been seen in the Agassiz-Harrison
area as well.
"The best protection against pertussis is to get vaccinated," said Dr. Paul
Van Buynder, Fraser Health's Chief Medical Health Officer. "Pertussis in
very young children can lead to hospitalization and even death," he said.
Fraser Health is encouraging parents to ensure their children are fully
immunized and is also offering free booster vaccine to adults who are in
regular contact with young children in eastern Fraser Valley communities
including Hope, Agassiz, Harrison Hot Springs and Chilliwack.
Vaccination clinics have been running in the Hope area for the past two
weeks and will be expanded to Agassiz on January 19. Vaccination clinics
will start in Chilliwack the week of January 23, 2012. The vaccine that
people get when they are children only offers protection for 4-10 years so
there are many people without adequate coverage. Adults who are in regular
contact with young children who have not had a booster in the last five
years are asked to contact their local health unit, their doctor or health
care provider to receive the free vaccine.
Hope Public Health
Unit - 604-860-7630
Health Unit - 604-702-4900
Agassiz Public Health
Unit - 604-793-7160
WHAT IS PERTUSSIS?
Pertussis (whooping cough) 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 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 pertussis is a reportable condition
which requires immediate notification to public health. Doctors should be
alert to pertussis 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
pertussis, 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.
DTaP is the vaccine that protects against pertussis and is administered at
age 2 months along with the vaccines for diphtheria and tetanus in a single
shot. Tdap is the combination booster vaccine available for people older
than 10 years of age. A booster dose of Tdap is recommended for teens ages
14 to 16. Any adult or health professional in the Hope area who expects to
have close contact with a baby less than 1 year old and whose last dose of
pertussis vaccine was 5 or more years ago is eligible for free pertussis
To make an appointment for immunization, please contact your local health
here. during regular business hours (Monday to Friday, 8:30 am -
For more information on pertussis, call HealthLink BC at 811 or view the
following pertussis BC HealthFiles online
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