Trent Ernst, Editor
With four recent cases of whooping cough—or, less colloquially, Pertussis—in Northern BC, Northern Health is reminding residents to be careful out there and take steps to protect themselves.
Pertussis is a highly infectious respiratory bacterial condition that affects all ages. In unimmunized infants, Pertussis can be a more serious disease which starts as a common cold progressing into a cough. The cough can become severe, with or without the whooping sound and may be accompanied by gasping, gagging, shortness of breathing and vomiting as well as pneumonia. There may also be a mild, associated fever.
The disease hasn’t made it to Tumbler Ridge yet—indeed, of the four cases reported in Northern Health’s area, three were in the Northwest and one was in the Central region—these things have a nasty habit of suddenly being everywhere all at once.
The disease is especially dangerous for pregnant women, especially during the last three months of their pregnancy as whooping cough can cause serious disease and complications to the fetus. Like most diseases, it is most dangerous in young children and older adults.
The best way to protect your children against Pertussis is to get them immunized. The Pertussis vaccine is part of the normal childhood vaccinations that are given at two months, four months, six months, and 18 months old, and again at between the ages of four and six (before kindergarten).
A Pertussis vaccine is also given to teens at 14 to 16 years of age (Grade 9) in British Columbia. Adults can also get protection from the vaccination.
Residents of Northern BC are encouraged to contact their local health units or their health care providers to discuss their need for the vaccine to protect themselves and their families from Pertussis.
If you come into contact with someone that has whooping cough, you are encouraged to see your health care provider or call HealthLink B.C. at 8-1-1.