Island Health is alerting families of Carihi Secondary School students that a case of pertussis has been confirmed at the school.
Also known as whooping cough, pertussis is a contagious disease that can be dangerous for some people, particularly babies under a year of age and pregnant women in their third trimester, whose infants may be exposed following birth.
In a letter forwarded by the school to the families, Island Health shared symptoms to watch for and urged everyone to update their children’s vaccinations against the disease.
Pertussis begins with mild cold-like symptoms, but can progress to a severe cough with a whoop, which may be followed by gagging and/or vomiting.
Island Health urges families to monitor their students and household members for these symptoms and contact their health-care provider if anyone develops the symptoms. Antibiotics will prevent the spread of infection starting five days after starting the medication.
The other step families can take is to ensure their children are up to date with pertussis immunization.
Vaccinations against the disease are typically given to children at 2, 4, 6 and 18 months of age, and again as they enter school. There is also a booster vaccine, offered in Grade 9.
“Making sure that your children are up to date for their routine immunizations is the most important way to protect them against pertussis,” Island Health’s letter states. “Immunizations can be accessed from your public health unit and some medical clinics.
The letter was sent by email and included an attached health file on pertussis, as well as contact information for public health units across the North Island.
For more info, contact Island Health’s Public Health Unit in Campbell River at 250-850-2110.