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

Agassiz speed skater heading to Canada West championships

Mya Onos, 11, is qualified for her first provincials this year, and is now taking on Western Canada

Harrison considers future of memorial bench program

Harrison to keep maintaining bench plaques, council seems to feel new benches could be in the future

BC Ferries has no plans to implement debit for vehicle ticket payments

Debit accepted for foot passengers, on-board purchases for all vessels

See stunning sights and amazing adventures at mountain film fest in Chilliwack

Discover what’s in our own backyard with the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival tour

The complete history of science in one hour at Chilliwack Cultural Centre

We Now Know is a complete history lesson without the boring stuff

Harrison Hot Springs students bring ‘Twelfth Night’ to life

The adaption of Shakespeare’s classic comedy include songs and phrases from Canada’s east coast

Facebook to overhaul ad targeting to prevent discrimination

The company is also paying about $5 million to cover plaintiffs’ legal fees and other costs

B.C. mosque part of open-house effort launched in wake of New Zealand shootings

The ‘Visit a Mosque’ campaign aims to combat Islamophobia

Teacher reprimanded after incident with Grade 11 student in school gym

Gregory Norman Brock was teaching at a high school in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District

‘That’s a load of crap’: Dog poop conspiracy spreads in White Rock

Allegation picked up steam through a Facebook page run by a city councillor

Explosives unit brought in after suspicious boxes left at B.C. RCMP detachment

Nanaimo RCMP issues all clear after packages were found on lawn earlier in the day

Avalanche control tomorrow on Highway 1

Expect closures of up to two hours east of Revelstoke

2019 BUDGET: As deficit grows, feds spend on job retraining, home incentives

Stronger economy last year delivered unexpected revenue bump of an extra $27.8 billion over six years

Newfoundland man caught after posting photo of himself drinking and driving

The 19-year-old took a photo of himself holding a beer bottle and cigarette while at the wheel

Most Read