Health authority monitoring whooping cough cases in region 

No outbreak in Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health

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There has been a slight increase in the number of cases of whooping cough in the local health region in the last two weeks — not enough for an outbreak but health officials are monitoring the situation.

This week Dr. Paul Martiquet, the Medical Health Officer for the Sea to Sky sent out a letter to students, parents and staff in the school district, alerting them to the reported cases of pertussis (whooping cough) in the Fraser Health Authority and the potential for it to spread north.

"Vancouver Coastal Health is not experiencing an outbreak at this time, though we have detected a small increase in the last two weeks," wrote Martiquet. "We will continue to monitor this activity."

So far there have been no cases in the Sea to Sky region.

The Fraser Valley's cases started in the eastern region and has now spread to Chilliwack. More than 140 cases have been reported from all geographic areas within the Fraser Health Authority.

Fraser Health is now advising all residents to get a free pertussis booster from their physician or pharmacist.

Whooping cough is, a bacterial infection of the lining of the respiratory tract. Early symptoms are like a cold: sneezing, runny nose, low fever, and mild cough. Within one to two weeks the symptoms may change to long coughing spells that often end in a whoop or crowing sound when the person breathes in. This cough can last up to a month or two and happens more at night.

Pertussis can be life threatening in children less than one. It is treatable with antibiotics.

Vancouver Coastal Health is now advising the following:

• Review your child's immunization record to ensure they are up-to-date; pertussis shots are offered free to children at two, four, six and 18 months of age, at four to six years and in Grade 9

• A booster is recommended for adults. It can be purchased at a VCH Travel Clinic or at a pharmacy with a physician's prescription

• See your physician if you or your child develops early symptoms of whooping cough.

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