Whooping cough hits Hope area residents

Some adults eligible for free booster shot, says Fraser Health

Health officials are warning of a whooping cough outbreak in the Hope area.

There were 15 reported cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, in December. That’s up from five reported cases between August and December of 2011.

On Tuesday, they asked health professionals and the public to be aware of the symptoms. They also reminded parents to ensure their children are fully immunized.

“It has been many years since British Columbia has had an outbreak of pertussis so there is very little natural immunity,” said Dr. Paul Van Buynder, Fraser Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer. “The best protection against pertussis is to get vaccinated. Pertussis in very young children can lead to hospitalization and even death,” he said.

They are offering a free booster vaccine to all adult residents of Hope who are in regular contact with young children.

Adults in this category who have not had a booster in the last five years are asked to contact the Hope Public Health Unit at 604-860-7630, their doctor or health care provider to receive the free vaccine.

Fraser Health says 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.

For more information, visit www.fraserhealth.ca. For more information on pertussis, call HealthLink BC at 811 or view the Pertussis HealthLink BC healthfile.