Fraser Health issued a health alert to easter Fraser Valley residents this morning, warning of an outbreak of whooping cough.
The outbreak was first reported in Hope in early January. |Now, cases are being seen in the Agassiz and Harrison Hot Springs area. The warning is being issued in Agassiz, Harrison, Hope and Chilliwack. Clinics have been set up to properly immunize those who are in contact with children on a regular basis.
The full announcement, including times for the clinics, is included below:
Public Service Announcement
19 January 2012
FRASER HEALTH EXPANDS WHOOPING COUGH ALERT TO EASTERN FRASERVALLEY
Fraser Health is asking healthcare professionals and the public in eastern FraserValley communities to be alert for the signs and symptoms of pertussis or whooping cough. 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 FraserValley 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
- Chilliwack Public 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 vaccination.
To make an appointment for immunization, please contact your local health unit during regular business hours (Monday to Friday, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm).
For more information on pertussis, call HealthLinkBC at 811 or view the following BC HealthFiles online.