Whooping cough persists in Greater Trail

Five new cases of whooping cough has Greater Trail still in the outbreak stage of the disease, warns an Interior Health physician.

Five new cases of whooping cough has Greater Trail still in the outbreak stage of the disease, warns an Interior Health physician.

Whooping cough (pertussis) is a highly contagious respiratory system which can result in prolonged illness, especially for infants and young children.

Since June, 24 cases have been diagnosed in the Kootenay Boundary, with the majority occurring in Rossland and Trail, confirmed Dr. Rob Parker, Medical Health Officer for the health authority.

“We are still seeing more cases,” said Parker, adding, “that means the bacteria (pertussis) is still circulating in the communities.”

Although Parker could not conclude if the new cases were school-related, he encouraged parents to review their children’s immunization record to make sure they are up to date with vaccines.

“We have repeated outbreaks in the Kootenay Boundary,” he said.

“I ask parents who haven’t immunized their kids to think about it again and talk to a public health nurse. Immunizations are safe and protect not only your child but your neighbour’s child.”

Outbreak measures are in place, and include a plan to provide booster shots to Grade 9 students in the fall rather than the usual winter month; and public health nurses are tight in following up with parents who have missed or cancelled immunization appointments, according to Parker.

Women in the third trimester of pregnancy fall under a national recommendation to approve use of B.C.’s free vaccine supply and do not pay for the booster while the community is in outbreak status.

“This is so the antibodies can be built up during the last stage of pregnancy to transfer to the baby,” explained Parker. “It means the baby will be further protected until first immunizations.”

The first symptoms of whooping cough are similar to those of a common cold, and may include sneezing, runny nose, mild fever and a low-grade cough.

After one to two weeks, the dry irritating cough evolves into severe coughing spells which can last for more than one minute.

Diagnosis is made by swabbing the throat or nose, and if positive for pertussis bacteria, treatment includes a full course of antibiotics.

For more information, visit immunizebc.ca or contact Trail Public Health at 364-6219.