Northern Health Precautions for Whooping Cough


To All Health Care Workers in NIHSDA
NI Precautions for Whooping Cough (Pertussis) Outbreak in Fraser
Fraser Health is experiencing an outbreak of Whooping Cough (Pertussis) since 2011.
What is Pertussis? Pertussis is a contagious bacterial disease of the lungs and throat that is
spread through coughing or sneezing by an infected person. It starts like a common cold,
with low-grade fever and a mild cough. Severe coughing spells that often end with a whoop
can develop in one to two weeks. Pregnant women in their 3rd trimester and infants under
one year of age are at greatest risk of disease. Pertussis is especially serious for infants,
and may lead to hospitalization.
Pertussis Situation in NH: In general, the rest of the health authorities, including NH, have
not reported Pertussis cases over and above the expected numbers. Pertussis activity in NI
has been low. NH continues to monitor the Pertussis situation in FH and will respond
adequately and appropriately to protect the residents of NH from this infection when that
becomes necessary.
The NI strategy is as follows:
A. Parents: All parents who have infants and children who are not completely
immunized are strongly advised to get them immunized as soon as possible. The
acellular Pertussis vaccine is very safe and effective. You may call your local health
unit for advice and or appointment. Parents should be encouraged to report early
signs of the disease in schools.
B. Adults: Adult Pertussis immunization is not recommended at this time.
C. Health Care Workers:
a. Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, Nurses and other HCWs are requested to
maintain a high index of suspicion for Pertussis and promptly report probable
and confirmed Pertussis cases to the MHO or Public Health Units.
b. In addition to taking appropriate samples for laboratory confirmation, HCWs
are encouraged to educate their clients and patients on Pertussis and
reiterate the two points above (A and B). HCWs are requested to consult their
hospital or local laboratories for the BCCDC recommended nasopharyngeal
swabbing process.
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c. School nurses may vamp up their surveillance to detect early related signs and symptoms of Pertussis in schools.
d. Licensing Officers may forward Pertussis reports in child care facilities to their local Public Health Units without delay.
D. High Risk Individuals: Pregnant women in their 3rd trimester and parents of infants that have been exposed to Pertussis will be notified by Public Health with recommendations to see their family doctor for antibiotics to prevent infection. Others who have been exposed should consult their doctor if they develop illness consistent with Pertussis.
For more information:
BC HealthFile #15
BC Nurseline 1-866-215-4700.
Dr. William Osei, Medical Health Officer (250) 565-7461
Jill Walker, Communicable Disease Lead. (250) 991-7571

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