Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Grey Bruce Health Unit
Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Arrives In Grey Bruce
There have been two separate lab confirmed cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, in an infant and young child living in southern Grey and Bruce Counties. Both cases were reported within the last two weeks, both children are expected to make a full recovery. Household and high-risk contacts have been offered preventative treatment.
There is a provincial pertussis outbreak across South and Central Ontario affecting people in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph; Perth; Oxford; Elgin-St. Thomas; Haldimand-Norfolk; and the Windsor-Essex areas. Officials at the Grey Bruce Health Unit do not believe there is any connection between the local cases and the provincial outbreak.
Pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the respiratory tract. The disease can affect people of any age; however, the disease is most severe in infants. Infants under one year of age and pregnant women in their third trimester are most vulnerable.
Pertussis spreads easily through the air in the droplets from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person and through contact with discharges from an infected person’s nose or throat. It can be spread for up to three weeks after the coughing spells start. People are no longer infectious after five days of treatment with appropriate antibiotics.
Symptoms usually are similar to a cold with a runny nose and cough. The cough becomes more frequent and severe. Repeated coughing spells (coughing spasms) are often accompanied by a crowing or a high pitched “whoop” as the person takes in a breath. Gagging, vomiting or extreme shortness of breath may follow the coughing. Symptoms in adolescents and adults are similar, although “whooping” is less common compared to younger children. In 80% of the cases the cough lasts longer than three weeks.
Immunization provides the best protections against pertussis. Most children are routinely immunized against whooping cough at two, four, six and 18 months and again at 4-6 years. A booster dose is routinely given at 14-16 years. New for adults, a single lifetime dose is available if they did not receive a booster dose at 14-16 years. Pertussis is often unrecognized in adults who can be a source of infection for infants and young children not fully vaccinated against pertussis.
One to three deaths from pertussis occur each year in Canada, usually in infants too young to have begun their immunization and in partially immunized infants.
For further information, call Public Health at 519-376-9420 or 1-800-263-3456 or visit our website at www.publichealthgreybruce.on.ca.
Karen Sweiger, RN, BScN
Program Manager, Infectious Diseases
Grey Bruce Health Unit
519-376-9420 or 1-800-263-3456 ext 1230