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Whooping cough on the increase

Interior Health is reminding parents about the importance of making sure their children’s immunizations are up to date as cases of whooping cough (pertussis) are on the increase.

Medical health officer, Dr. Kamran Golmohammadi says immunization is the best way to prevent the spread of the disease.

“Our numbers of persons of immunized children at the end of 2 years old is fairly consistent and similar to the numbers across Canada-unfortunately in BC about 20 to 30% of children at that age are not completely immunized against pertussis.”

The pertussis vaccine is part of the routine childhood vaccinations that are given at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 18 months old, and again at age 4 to 6 years.

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A pertussis vaccine is also given to teens at 14 to 16 years of age.

Dr. Golmohammadi says the majority of the whooping cough cases are currently being seen in the Central Okanagan with sporadic cases appearing in other regions including the Cariboo.

“It’s an endemic infectious disease in Canada. That means that it is a common disease and happens with different frequencies.”

“What we see with this particular infectious agent or bacteria is that every 3 to 5 years we note a pattern or a cycle of an increase in the number of cases.”

Pertussis which starts with similar symptoms to a common cold (runny nose, sore throat, and mild fever), progresses to a cough with or without a classic whooping sound and may be accompanied by gasping, gagging, shortness of breathing and vomiting.

In serious cases, it can lead to pneumonia, seizures, brain damage or even death.

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