With ongoing outbreaks of pertussis in the Algoma and North Bay districts, the Sudbury & District Health Unit is encouraging everyone to make sure their vaccinations are up-to-date.
“Pertussis is very contagious and it can be a particularly dangerous bacterial respiratory illness for infants, and that is why having up-to-date vaccinations is so critical,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Sudbury & District Medical Officer of Health.
Pertussis (also known as whooping cough) can be treated with antibiotics, but vaccination is the first line of defense.
Pertussis can spread from person-to-person through coughing or sneezing, and by touching contaminated surfaces. Symptoms typically begin within seven to 10 days after being exposed to someone who is infected.
The illness usually starts with cold-like symptoms, such as a mild fever and cough. After 1 to 2 weeks, severe, violent, and uncontrollable coughing can begin and last for six to 12 weeks. The extreme coughing can cause gagging, vomiting, and fatigue. See a health care provider if you or a child in your care have signs or symptoms of pertussis.
Pertussis can affect people of all ages, but for infants, it is especially severe and can be life threatening. Pregnant women in their third trimester are also at higher risk as they could pass the infection to their newborn infants.
The best protection against pertussis is vaccination. In Ontario there is a free vaccine available that can protect individuals against pertussis. Children are usually immunized at 2, 4, 6, and 18 months; 4 to 6 years; and 14 to 16 years of age.
One booster dose of the vaccine is given in adulthood. The pertussis vaccine is mandatory for children to attend school and child care centres in Ontario unless they are exempted for medical or philosophical reasons.
The Health Unit and health care providers offer the pertussis vaccination as well as other publicly funded vaccines.
For more information about pertussis or the vaccine, call the Sudbury & District Health Unit at 705.522.9200 (toll-free 1.866.522.9200) or visit www.sdhu.com.