Whooping cough reported at Victoria middle school

Island Health said one student has been diagnosed and four other schools notified

At least one student at Central Middle School has been diagnosed with whooping cough, according to an advisory issued Monday from the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

Since then, four other schools in Greater Victoria have been put on watch and parents and guardians have been notified.

“It’s not an outbreak,” warns Meribeth Burton, communications director for Island Health. “An outbreak is considered three or more confirmed cases per school.”

A second advisory regarding scarlet fever has also been issued; Burton said public health units often work with schools to send notices when they agree it is beneficial, but scarlet fever is not a reportable illness.

“It’s linked to strep throat and extremely rare, but only one school has notified parents,” she said.

Pertussis, or whooping cough as it is more commonly known, is an infection of the airways treatable with antibiotics. B.C. provides a free vaccine to infants and children to protect against the infection, which starts with symptons similar to a cold (sneezing, runny nose, fever, mild cough).

Island Health recommends keeping up on immunizations to prevent whooping cough.

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com