An adult case of whooping cough has been confirmed in Duncan.
Island Health spokeswoman Cheryl Bloxham said letters were sent on March 8 to potential exposure sites in the area, including St. John Ambulance’s Youth Program, the Chalkboard Theatre group and the Regent Online Christian Academy, which meets in person at Oasis Church twice a week.
She said communicable disease nurses followed up with those who were in immediate contact with the individual.
“There are no high-risk contacts,” Bloxham said. “This is a reminder for everyone to check your immunization status and stay up to date with vaccinations.”
It’s the second confirmed case of whooping cough in the south Island during the past week.
Island Health sent another letter out last week to the Mount Douglas Secondary School community that a case of whooping cough had been confirmed at the school.
Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a serious infection of the airways caused by pertussis bacteria.
People of any age can get whooping cough, but young children who have not been immunized get sicker than older children and adults.
Whooping cough can cause complications such as pneumonia, seizures, brain damage or even death.
These complications happen most often in infants under one year of age.
Each year in Canada, one to three deaths occur due to whooping cough, mostly in babies less than three months of age who have not been immunized.
Whooping cough spreads easily when an infected person coughs, sneezes or has close contact with others.
Sharing food, drinks or cigarettes, or kissing someone who has the pertussis bacteria can also put you at risk.
Whooping cough can be spread to others during the early stages of the infection when symptoms are not severe and if left untreated, it can spread up to three weeks after the cough starts.
Whooping cough starts like a common cold with symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, mild fever and a mild cough.
Over the next two weeks, the cough gets worse, leading to severe, repeated, and forceful coughing spells that often end with a whooping sound before the next breath.
The cough of pertussis can last several months and occurs more often at night.
The cough can make a person gag or spit out mucous, and make it hard to take a breath.
In babies, whooping cough can cause periods of apnea in which their breathing is interrupted.
There are a number of pertussis vaccines available in B.C. that protect against whooping cough.
The whooping cough vaccines are provided in combination with other vaccines such as diphtheria, polio and tetanus and are free as part of a child’s routine immunizations.
A whooping cough vaccine is also available for older children and adults.