January 20, 2016 - 8:30 AM
VERNON - A jump in the number of people coming down with the whooping cough in Vernon has medical officials reminding the public how to protect themselves against the disease.
There has been five confirmed cases of pertussis, commonly referred to as the whooping cough, in Vernon since the beginning of January, medical health officer Dr. Kamran Golmohammadi says. At least three cases involved school-aged children.
While whooping cough is a vaccine-preventable disease, Interior Health still sees a number of cases every year, Golmohammadi says. Last year, there were 174 confirmed cases, mostly among teens and adults, which is slightly higher than normal but far from being considered an outbreak, he says. Since Jan. 1, 2016, there have been a total of eight confirmed cases, with five in Vernon and the other three spread out among the health authority’s other communities.
“Five cases in one small population was kind of alarming, and we want to make sure parents are aware of the signs and symptoms,” Golmohammadi says.
Initial symptoms are similar to those of a common cold, however after a week patients develop severe coughing spells, sometimes accompanied by gagging or vomit. Anyone who thinks they, or a family member, may have caught whooping cough should see a physician right away. The disease can be quite serious, even deadly, especially in children under 12 months old, Golmohammadi says.
Someone sick with the whooping cough who is untreated can be contagious for up to three weeks, but with antibiotics, that time is shortened to mere days, Golmohammadi adds.
The disease is vaccine preventable, with kids in B.C. typically receiving their first immunization at two months, with booster shots after that.
“People who are immunized either do not get the infection at all or if they are infected, they’re usually mild cases,” Golmohammadi says. “Our hope is that all children are vaccinated. Unfortunately, we do not have a 100 per cent vaccination coverage, therefore we have some individuals that aren’t protected.”
He couldn’t comment on whether or not the five people with whooping cough in Vernon were vaccinated, but confirmed they had ‘little or no immunity'.
The best protection, he says, it to ensure your family’s vaccinations are up to date, which can be done by contacting your local public health centre, and to see a doctor immediately if you think you have the disease.
“This is a completely vaccine-preventable disease, there is no reason to put ourselves, and our children, at risk, as this can be very deadly,” Golmohammadi says.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016