Islanders are reminded to ensure their immunizations against whooping cough (pertussis) are up to date and to stay home if sick, says Officer Doctor Heather Morrison, chief public health officer.
“Prince Edward Island continues to experience an outbreak of whooping cough. It is important that anyone who is experiencing symptoms visit their healthcare provider,” said Morrison. “It is also extremely important that Islanders who are diagnosed stay home until they are well as it spreads easily from person to person through coughing, sneezing and close contact.”
There have been 24 cases of whooping cough since the outbreak was confirmed. Anyone, regardless of age, can contract whooping cough. It is of particular concern in newborns as they can become extremely ill and develop serious complications.
Although Prince Edward Island has not had an outbreak of pertussis in a number of years, there has been a recurrence of high rates of the illness in North America in recent years. Whooping cough is caused by bacteria that infect the lungs and airways. Symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, fever, and mild cough, which over a period of one to two weeks worsen to include serious coughing spells. Often the cough ends with a whooping sound and can cause the person to vomit. Older children and adults can have a mild persistent cough without fits of coughing or a whooping sound.
Infants in Prince Edward Island are routinely immunized against whooping cough at ages two, four, six and 18 months. Booster doses are also offered at four years of age and in Grade 9. Adults who have not previously received a dose of pertussis-containing vaccine in adulthood are also recommended to receive a single booster dose.
In addition to these routine immunization recommendations, Prince Edward Island offers a booster dose to parents of newborns and any close contacts whose immunization is not current. The vaccine is available fr ee of charge through HPEI Public Health Nursing.
Whooping cough is a vaccine-preventable disease and the best way to protect yourself and your family is through immunization.
For more information on whooping cough visit www.gov.pe.ca/photos/original/dhw_fs_pertussi.pdf