Watch out for whooping cough

Northern Health is reminding people to make sure their children are immunized against whooping cough as four recent cases have been confirmed in the northwest.

Adults can also get immunized against the disease, also called pertussis, and pregnant women are at risk if they are in the last three months of their pregnancy as whooping cough can cause serious disease and complications to the fetus, said a release from Northern Health March 18.

"There are currently a growing number of individuals in these areas who have had close contact with the cases, increasing their risk of pertussis infection if they haven't been immunized," said the release.

Whooping cough is a highly infectious respiratory bacterial condition that affects all ages.  In unimmunized infants, it can be a more serious disease which starts as a common cold progressing into a cough. The cough can become severe, with or without the whooping sound and may be accompanied by gasping, gagging, shortness of breathing and vomiting as well as pneumonia. There may also be a mild, associated fever.

The best way to protect your children against pertussis is to get them immunized. The pertussis vaccine is part of the normal childhood vaccinations that are given at two months, four months, six months, and 18-months-old, and again at age four to six years (before kindergarten). A pertussis vaccine is also given to teens at 14 to 16 years of age (Grade 9) in B.C.

Residents of Northern B.C. are encouraged to contact their local health units or their health care providers to discuss their need for the vaccine to protect themselves and their families.

If you come into contact with someone that has whooping cough, see your health care provider or call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1.

For more information on whooping cough, call your local health unit or visit

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