Whooping cough outbreak prompts region-wide vaccine push

Fraser Health decides to act to combat spread of pertussis

A booster shot to immunize against pertussis

A spreading outbreak of whooping cough has prompted Fraser Health to extend its vaccination campaign across the region.

More than 150 people are believed to have contracted pertussis, a highly contagious bacterial infection that causes adults to cough for months but can be deadly to babies.

Medical health officer Dr. Elizabeth Brodkin said efforts to combat the illness had focused on Chilliwack and Hope – where the outbreak began – but said the vaccine is now being made available to doctors and pharmacists across the region.

“More and more we are seeing cases outside of Fraser East,” she said.

Whooping cough cases are appearing in Burnaby, New Westminster, Langley and Maple Ridge, Brodkin said.

“We didn’t want to wait until we were seeing huge numbers of cases and a very aggressive spread,” she added. “We saw enough cases we became concerned and decided it was time to act.”

Adults and youth in contact with young children who have not had the pertussis vaccine in the last five years are urged to get vaccinated.

The goal is to immunize adults – for whom pertussis is more of an irritant – so they don’t act as carriers infecting infants, who are most at risk and are hospitalized in more than half of cases.

Three children have already been hospitalized due to the outbreak, including one two-week-old baby that ended up in intensive care for five weeks. All three have recovered.

“It’s a nasty infection and even deadly in young infants,” Brodkin said.

Three-quarters of infants infected get it from parents or close family members.

California had a huge outbreak in 2009 that claimed the lives of 10 children, five more died in Saskatchewan in 2010 and two more children died last year just across the border in Washington State, where authorities are still battling an outbreak.

The vaccine lasts only about five years so many people who got it in the past are no longer protected.

Early symptoms of pertussis are similar to a cold, but often worsening to severe coughing that sounds like a whoop or crowing sound as the patient breathes in. Symptoms develop seven to 14 days after infection.

For more information and a list of pharmacies that perform immunizations, see www.fraserhealth.ca/whoopingcough.

Just Posted

Enrolment, EA increases make for no surprises in updated school district budget

The budget reflects changes that were made after recieving provincial funds in December

Agassiz Community Gardens hoping to find new home at old McCaffrey school

The society has been looking for a new location since its previous gardens were sold in October

Kent looking to replace Ferny Coombe pool with indoor facility

The facility being built is dependent on grant funding from the province and federal government

Escape room brings ‘out of the box’ activity to Agassiz

AESS alumni and teacher developed the concept to bring teamwork-based entertainment to the town

Prices still rising, Chilliwack real estate back in balanced territory

Local market is steadier compared to points west with higher increase in average sale price

Fashion Fridays: Inspirational gym outfits

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Russian fighter jets collide over Sea of Japan crews eject

One plane crashed after its crew ejected safely, the other crew also ejected but they have not been found

Judge to deliver verdict in British sailor’s gang rape case

The alleged gang rape took place at a Halifax-area military base in 2015

B.C. minister fears money laundering involves billions of dollars, cites reports

The government had estimated that it was a $200-million a year operation, instead estimates now peg the problem at $1 billion annually

Heavy snowfall expected on the Coquihalla

Snowfall warning in effect for the Coquihalla Highway, from Hope to Merritt

BC Hydro scammers bilked customers out of nearly $45,000 in 2018

Nearly 2,000 people reported scams to the utility, as they continue to be more common

Olympian snowboarder Max Parrot diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Each year in Canada, approximately 900 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery accused of sexual assault, harassment

Emery denied the allegations, but a Toronto woman says she is not the only one speaking out

Vancouver Island photographer makes National Geographic’s 2018 elite

Rare double honour for Marston from the 36 best Your Shots out of nearly 19,000 photos

Most Read