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Health Unit Warns Community of Pertussis (Whooping Cough) in the Region

Parents advised to recognize symptoms which are particularly dangerous to children under one.

PORT HOPE, ON (April 16, 2024) – The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR District Health Unit) would like to remind parents and guardians to ensure their children’s immunizations are up to date and on file with the local health unit, after being notified of confirmed cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, in the City of Kawartha Lakes.  

Pertussis is a serious bacterial infection of the respiratory system and was one of the most common childhood diseases and a cause of child mortality in the 20th century. Routine childhood immunization for pertussis along with protection from polio, tetanus and diphtheria has decreased cases of disease significantly.   

Pertussis can be introduced to communities through travel to countries with lower rates of vaccination, and it can circulate among those who are unvaccinated, under vaccinated, or those whose vaccine effectiveness has decreased over time. It is very contagious and spreads via droplets from the noses and mouths of those who are infected. While anyone can get whooping cough, it is most dangerous for children under the age of one year, and pregnant women.

“Immunization remains the best way to protect your child or yourself from getting sick with pertussis,” said Dr. Natalie Bocking, Medical Officer of Health, and Chief Executive Officer for the HKPR District Health Unit. “Please familiarize yourself with the symptoms of pertussis and seek medical care if your child has these symptoms. Pertussis can be treated with antibiotics. Lastly, and most importantly, always ensure your child’s routine vaccinations are up to date and have been reported to the local public health unit.” 
The Signs and Symptoms of Pertussis 
Once a person is infected it can take up to 20 days for them to develop symptoms, including: 

  • Pertussis usually starts like a cold, with a very runny nose.  
  • After a few days, the typical irritating coughing begins that becomes more frequent and severe.  
  • Coughing may be followed by a “whoop” sound before the next breath.  
  • The coughing can be so aggressive that children vomit or have trouble breathing.  
  • The cough is usually severe for 2 to 3 weeks and then starts to get better but can last up to 1 to 2 months.   

Diagnosed cases of pertussis are treated with antibiotics. Parents/caregivers should check their own immunization records, as they may be eligible for publicly funded pertussis-containing vaccine when the next booster is due.   

Additional Information and Resources 

The HKPR District Health Unit is also holding immunization clinics for students or people who do not have a health care provider. To  book an appointment, call 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1507 or visit our Immunization Clinics webpage 

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