By Della Schafer, Rossland News
Ten cases of whooping cough have been diagnosed in Rossland in the last two months, prompting Interior Health Authority to issue an alert.
Regional medical health officer Dr. Rob Parker said the Golden City and the region bounding it has seen a surge of whooping cough cases in children over the last few weeks.
Since the middle of June, 10 cases have been diagnosed in Rossland and 19 throughout the region, including seven in Trail.
That compares to an average of less than two cases diagnosed at this time of year.
Dr. Parker said the culprit for the outbreak might be lower than normal immunization rates in the city and the West Kootenay, with 65 per cent vaccinated in the area, less than the 90 per cent rate in the rest of the province.
He reminded parents to make sure their children were immunized so they were not at risk.
“The West Kootenay and the Fraser Valley have some of the lowest childhood immunization rates in the province,” he said.
Whooping cough is a respiratory infection that is highly contagious, and causes illness lasting up to two months. Whooping cough can cause serious consequences for any child, he said, but newborns and infants are at greatest risk.
The illness is spread through coughing and the infection is most contagious during early stages.
Dr. Parker said whooping cough “can spread quickly and easily among those who aren’t vaccinated.”
“The best way to protect newborns and infants is through high vaccination rates—also known as herd immunity,” Dr. Parker said.
The last whooping cough outbreak in the region was in 2010.
When a large percentage of a population is vaccinated, a disease can’t take hold, said Dr. Parker.
“When childhood immunization rates fall below 90 per cent we start losing the protection offered by herd immunity and this puts unimmunized children and newborns at increased risk,” he said. “So, it is no surprise that we see recurrent outbreaks of communicable diseases in communities with the lowest immunization rates.”
The classic symptoms of whooping cough are a seizure-likecough, inspiratory whoop, and vomiting after coughing. Violent coughing can cause the cavity between the lungs to rupture.
The cough from whooping cough has been documented to cause hemorrhaging, rib fractures, urinary incontinence, hernias, post-coughing fainting and or dissection of the lining of the vertebral artery.
A tendency to produce the “whooping” sound after coughing may remain for a considerable period after the disease itself has cleared up.
B.C. has a publicly funded immunization program for children and adults that protects against 16 illnesses. Vaccines can be obtained for free from a public health centre. Some Greater Trail pharmacies also offer vaccines for children ages five and older.
To learn more about immunizations, visit Immunize BC at http://immunizebc.ca/.
Dr. Parker recommends that parents review all their children’s immunization records to make sure they are up to date with their shots before the new school year starts.
You can find out what vaccine your child needs on ImmunizeBC at http://immunizebc.ca/vaccine-schedules.