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Whooping cough outbreak raises concern

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Whooping cough outbreak raises concern

Those in most vulnerable groups being offered free vaccinations

Comments Whooping cough outbreak raises concernThose in most vulnerable groups being offered free vaccinations

Health-care officials are offering free vaccinations for pertussis (whooping cough) to vulnerable people because of a recent dramatic increase in the number of cases of the bacterial disease in the Vancouver Coastal Health region in recent weeks.

Approximately 40 cases of pertussis, a contagious disease characterized by fits of coughing followed by a noisy, “whooping” in-drawn breath, have been documented across the region since January, a number that public health officials characterized as “a large increase.”

No cases of the disease were documented across the region during the same period in 2011, Dr. Paul Martiquet, medical health officer for the Coast Garibaldi health region, wrote in a statement issued to schools and other agencies on Monday (March 26).

The Fraser Health Region has experienced an outbreak of some 150 cases of the disease in recent weeks, officials said.

Aboriginal communities have been among the hardest hit by the disease. As well, the disease can be fatal in infants if left untreated.

Those in three groups are being urged to check their immunization records and, if they haven’t had a pertussis vaccination in the past five years, to contact their doctor, public health clinics and some pharmacies to receive free vaccinations:

• All pregnant women and their partners;

• Anyone who has contact with infants aged 18 months and younger;

• All Aboriginal people.

The Chief Newspaper