Whooping cough outbreak declared in Southern Health region

A whooping cough outbreak has been declared in Manitoba’s Southern Health- Santé Sud region.

On Monday, Manitoba Health announced that since January it has received 154 reports of confirmed or probable cases of whooping cough – 152 of these cases were in the Southern Health region.

These cases include 30 infants aged one or younger; 80 kids aged one to nine; 24 kids aged 10 to 19; and 20 cases in adults. The province noted that the outbreak includes 78 females and 76 males, and has resulted in 55 visits to emergency departments, as well as two admissions to pediatric intensive care. No one has died.

Whooping cough is a contagious illness that can be prevented by a vaccine.

It is caused by a bacteria that is often spread through respiratory droplets in the air from coughing or sneezing. The illness is most contagious at the beginning stages.

Initially, whooping cough has similar symptoms to the common cold. It starts with a mild fever, runny nose and cough, but can end up coughing fits that can last for one to 10 weeks. These symptoms usually appear seven to 10 days after exposure.

Whooping cough affects people of all ages, but infants and pregnant people in their third trimester are at highest risk. Some of the most severe complications include pneumonia, seizures, brain swelling and death.

Manitobans are reminded that the vaccine is safe and effective. It’s also the best way to prevent infection and severe symptoms, and limit the spread.

Children should be vaccinated against whooping cough at two, four, six and 18 months; between the ages of four and six; and in Grades 8 or 9. The vaccine is also recommended for those who are pregnant.

Manitoba Health has sent follow-up letter to parents and caregivers with children born in 2019, 2020 and 2021 who may be missing routine immunizations.

Anyone who has questions or concerns about immunizations is encouraged to speak to their health-care provider, public health office or by calling Health Links at 204-788-8200.

Manitobans with whooping cough symptoms should see their health-care provider.

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