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

Location eyed for possible collector well

New estimate puts price tag of new water source at $81 million

Police investigate sexual assault of teen girl in Abbotsford

Incident occurred Wednesday night along Oriole Crescent

Bad behaviour to lead to expulsion at Abbotsford council

New rules lay out how a member can be booted from a meeting

More extreme weather beds needed in Mission

Council allocates another $5,000 to help keep people safe, warm and dry

Input sought for road works for Maple Ridge

Consultation on Haney Bypass upgrades

B.C. cougar kitten rescued after mother struck by vehicle

Conservation Officers find home for young kitten found dehydrated and frostbitten near Williams Lake

Christopher Garnier appealing murder conviction in death of off-duty cop

Jury found Garnier guilty in December, rejecting his claim she died accidentally during rough sex

Transportation watchdog must revisit air passenger obesity complaint

Canadian Transportation Agency must take new look at Gabor Lukacs’ complaint against Delta Air Lines

Gas plants verdict coming down today; ex-premier’s top aides to learn fate

Verdict to be delivered on senior staff to former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty

5 to start your day

Smoking ban on BC Ferries starts Monday, IHIT uses new strategy in murder investigation and more

Police investigating after body found in East Vancouver

The body was discovered in a parked vehicle

Rock slide closes Hwy. 1 south of Ashcroft until Friday afternoon

A rock slide Thursday afternoon near Spences Bridge closed the highway in both directions

WestJet appeals lost bid to scrap harassment lawsuit

Airline argues judge was wrong to have dismissed the company’s application to strike the legal action

Can U.S. border guards search your phone? Yes, and here’s how

Secretary of homeland security explains a new policy that let’s border guards check phones

Most Read