(Macaulay Elementary School/SD61)

A probable case of whooping cough has been detected at Macaulay Elementary School in Esquimalt.

In a letter to parents and guardians, Island Health warns that individuals attending the school may have been in contact with the pertussis bacteria that is spread by coughing.

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Signs of whooping cough or pertussis include cold-like symptoms that may progress to a severe cough with a distinct ‘whooping’ sound, and 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.

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.

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)