Korie Marshall

Four cases of whooping cough (Pertussis) have been confirmed in the north, and Northern Health is encouraging people to review their immunization and get updated if necessary.

Northern Health says there are confirmed cases of Pertussis in Fort St. James, Prince Rupert, and on Haida Gwaii, and there are a growing number of people who have had close contact with these cases, increasing their risk of pertussus if they haven’t been immunized.

Pertussis is a highly infectious respiratory bacterial condition that affects all ages, but can be more serious in unimmunized infants. 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 or a mild fever. Pregnant women are at risk if they are in the last three months of their pregnancy as whooping cough can cause serious disease and complications to the fetus.

Jonathon Dyck, spokesperson for Northern Health, says if you have shared sleeping arrangements or shared air space for more than two hours with someone who has a persistent and prolonged cough, you can check your risk status with your doctor or health unit. Also, if someone with Pertussus coughs directly into your face or personal space, you can check with your care provider.

Dyck says it takes 10 to 14 days from immunization for maximum protection. Children under 18 will normally have received six shots of Pertussis vaccines as part of the free provincial immunization program, starting at two months. He says anyone older than 18 can check with their local health unit or care provider about their eligibility for the vaccine, and adults who do not qualify for the free vaccine can pay for it.

Anyone who has come in close contact with someone with whooping cough or those at the highest risk of severe infection, infants and pregnant women in their third trimester, are encouraged to contact their health professionals, says Dyck. There is no concern for those that are up to date on their immunizations and have not come into contact with someone who has whooping cough.

If you come into contact with someone that has whooping cough, Northern Health encourages you to see your health care provider or call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1. For more information on whooping cough, call your local health unit or visit the provincial website.