Peterborough health unit advising vaccinations as cases of whooping cough spread in community

Some of the cases of the bacterial respiratory infection pertussis have been linked to local schools

A young boy coughing while being examined by a doctor. (Stock photo)

Peterborough Public Health is advising residents to make sure they are up to date with immunizations after multiple cases of pertussis have been reported to the health unit over the past week.

Commonly called whooping cough, pertussis is a bacterial respiratory infection spread through contact with droplets produced by an infected person’s sneeze or cough.

Some of the pertussis cases in the community have been lined to local schools, according to the health unit.

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“The school setting is a pathogen’s dream, as there are many people gathering in close proximity who may not be vaccinated or up to date on their pertussis vaccine,” says medical officer of health Dr. Thomas Piggott in a media release.

Dr. Piggott is advising residents to get vaccinated and not let “your summer get spoiled,” as coughing can last for one to two months.

Early symptoms include mild cold symptoms such as runny nose, mild fever, and a cough. After one or two weeks, a persistent cough may be accompanied by a “whooping” sound when breathing in. People may also experience difficulty breathing and even vomiting due to the extreme cough.

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Anyone experiencing these symptoms should isolate themselves immediately and reach out to their health care provider for guidance on seeking treatment. People at greatest risk of severe illness include infants under the age of one and pregnant women.

The best way to prevent getting sick with pertussis is to be immunized against it. Peterborough Public Health is advising residents to review their immunization records with their health care provider or online if available and receive a pertussis vaccine if overdue.

Booster doses for pertussis should occur at age 14 to 16, once as an adult, and during each pregnancy. Contact your health care provider to receive a pertussis immunization. Those without a health care provider can the health unit’s routine immunization clinic at 705-743-1000 est. 331 to book an appointment.