Press Release submitted by Kendra Fleming
The local health unit is urging parents to make sure their children’s immunizations are up-to-date after being notified of one laboratory confirmed case and three linked cases of pertussis in a Northumberland County family.
Pertussis, also called whooping cough, is a serious bacterial infection of the respiratory system. It is easily spread through droplets in the air from the coughing or sneezing of an infected person. While anyone can get whooping cough, it is most dangerous for children under the age of one year, and pregnant women.
Whooping cough typically starts with a runny nose and an irritating cough that becomes more frequent or severe, often followed by vomiting, says Marianne Rock, Manager of Communicable Disease Prevention and Control with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit. “Once a person is infected, it can take up to 20 days for them to develop symptoms,” she says.
The Health Unit was notified this week that one case of whooping cough had been confirmed with laboratory testing, and that three other family members in the same household are ill with symptoms. Those ill were either not vaccinated or partially vaccinated against the virus.
Whooping cough is preventable through immunization, and Rock says the reminder to parents about their children’s vaccinations comes at a time when the Health Unit has been busy sending notices to area students whose vaccination records are not up-to-date. These notices tell families that if vaccination records are not updated, or a valid exemption for medical, conscience or religious reasons is not submitted to the Health Unit, students will be suspended from school starting in April.
“While it is not the Health Unit’s intent to suspend students, there is a requirement for all students to be vaccinated,” Rock notes. “Vaccines are free, safe and effective, and help protect young people against very serious diseases.”
The current cases of whooping cough are recovering at home, Rock says, and the Health Unit has been following up with anyone who may have been in contact with the family. At this time, there does not appear to be any additional cases, but she encourages anyone who develops symptoms to contact their health care provider or emergency room to arrange for testing.
The Health Unit is also holding immunization clinics for students or people who do not have a health care provider. To learn more, or to book an appointment, call the Health Unit toll-free at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1507.
For media inquiries, contact: Marianne Rock, Manager, Communicable Disease Prevention and Control, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1486