Parents and children in Sidney may want to keep an eye out for illness symptoms following a confirmed case of whooping cough in a child in the area.

On Wednesday, Sidney Elementary School informed parents that one student is suspected to have contracted pertussis, or whooping cough, over spring break.

“Individuals who have attended the school may have been in contact with the bacteria, which are spread by coughing,” reads a letter sent to local parents.

While the school and Island Health believe that risk to other students is low, they are advising families to be vigilant of illness.

On March 21st, Island Health also warned of another case of pertussis or whooping cough at Greenglade Community Centre pottery class in Sidney. It’s unclear if the two cases are linked.

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Symptoms

Signs of whooping cough include cold-like symptoms that may progress to a severe cough with a distinct ‘whooping’ sound that may be followed by gagging or vomiting. These symptoms can last for several weeks, and can be particularly dangerous for infants under the age of one.

Pregnant mothers in their third trimester who contract the illness may also run the risk of exposing their newborn infant to the ailment after they are born.

Island Health is advising residents to contact their healthcare provider or test for pertussis bacteria should any family members develop these symptoms.

If someone contracts whooping cough, treatment includes an extended use of antibiotics. After five days of treatment, the individual is no longer considered infectious and can return to school or work.

“Not unusual”

While pertussis can be a serious illness, Island Health does not believe there is an added danger to the public.

On average, Island Health facilities see hundreds of whooping cough cases each year with 3 to 5 new cases a week.

Last week, Vancouver Island saw a total of 5 whooping pertussis cases in 7 days. In first three month of 2018, there was a total of 42 lab confirmed cases of whooping cough on the island, while the first three months of 2019 have seen 30 cases.

Vaccination

While whooping cough is not unusual, its symptoms can still be severe.

Island Health is reminding parents that it is important for children to keep up to date with immunizations, including protection against pertussis.

Immunizations are normally given to children three times in early childhood: in their first year of life, at 18 months, and upon entering kindergarten. An additional booster shot is also administered in grade 9.

Parents are being advised to check their children’s immunization records, with vaccinations available at local public health units or select doctor’s offices.

(Island Health letter)

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