December 17, 2015
The City of Meadow Lake is currently experiencing an increase in the number of pertussis (whooping cough) cases, advises Dr. Mandiangu Nsungu, Medical Health Officer (MHO) for Prairie North Health Region (PNHR).
Pertussis is a serious bacterial infection of the respiratory (breathing) system. Anyone can get pertussis, but the disease is most severe in children less than one year of age, when it can be fatal. This disease is also considered severe in pregnant women in the last trimester of pregnancy as it can be passed to the newborn with the potential to cause severe complications and death.
The germ is spread very easily by infected people when they cough, sneeze or have close contact with others. Pertussis can easily spread from person to person, especially among people of the same household, school or daycare.
Early symptoms of pertussis are sneezing, runny nose, fever and cough. Over time, the cough gets worse, leading to severe coughing spells with a whooping sound before the next breath and often ends in vomiting. The cough can last up to two months and can make it very hard to breathe. Complications include pneumonia, seizures and brain disorder. Death can occur in children, especially those below one year of age.
Young infants may not have these exact symptoms, and a parent or caregiver may not realize how sick their baby really is. Adolescents and adults may experience milder symptoms. Once a person has had pertussis, they do not develop life-long protection and may get the disease again.
Many people with pertussis may experience mild symptoms. However, the concern is that they may pass the infection to young infants who may have serious complications from it, including death.
Pertussis can be prevented by a vaccine given at 2, 4, 6 and 18 months of age. This is repeated once between age 4 years and 6 years, and once again in grade 8. As a way of protecting infants, especially those below the age of 6 months, the vaccine is also available to caregivers (including daycare workers) of babies up to 6 months of age, and to women who are 26 or more weeks pregnant.
Dr. Nsungu reminds everyone:
- They should see their health care provider if they experience a cough that lasts 2 weeks or more, or if they experience any other symptoms suggestive of pertussis.
- They should ensure that their children's immunization is up to date.
- Caregivers of young infants, including daycare workers, should receive the pertussis vaccine.
- From now until further notice, women living, working or going to school in Meadow Lake who are 26 weeks pregnant or more should contact their Public Health Office to receive the pertussis vaccine regardless of their prior immunization status. Once the situation comes back to normal, pertussis vaccination of pregnant women will revert back to those who are 26 weeks pregnant or more and have not received a dose of pertussis vaccine since turning 18 years of age.
- Pregnant women in all other areas of Prairie North Health Region should receive the pertussis vaccine only if they are 26 weeks pregnant or more and have not received the pertussis vaccine after turning 18 years old.
The adult pertussis vaccine is combined with tetanus and diphtheria vaccines in what is called Tdap (Tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis).
For more information or to arrange interviews, contact:
PNHR Corporate Office 306-446-6606
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