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Whooping Cough risk in NWO

By Ryan Forbes Jul 5, 2023 | 4:49 PM

The Northwestern Health Unit is warning the public about an increased risk of pertussis, otherwise known as the ‘whooping cough’, in the region.

Manitoba Health has declared an outbreak of the virus in the Southern Health Region, roughly the Portage la Prairie area, with 154 cases reported – mostly in children aged zero to nine.

The health unit says due to increased travel to and from the area over the summer season, there is an increased risk of pertussis cases in northwestern Ontario.

Staff explain the virus spreads through droplets in the air when someone coughs or sneezes. Common symptoms include severe coughing, and while it can affect anyone at any age, infants under one years-old are at the greatest risk of pneumonia, brain damage, seizures and possible death.

The NWHU says the greatest defence against the illness is getting vaccinated, by calling your local health unit office. Those eligible for a vaccine include:

– Infants at 2, 4, 6 and 18 months of age,
– Children between the ages of 4 – 6,
– Youth between 14 – 16,
– Pregnant individuals,
– Adults aged 18 and over who have not received a dose in adulthood,

“The pertussis vaccine helps your body to fight the disease and prevents spreading it to others. Now is the time to protect yourself and each other,” says Sandra Krikke, Infectious Diseases Program Specialist at Northwestern Health Unit.

Other things residents can do to stay safe include avoiding contact with babies if they are not up to date on their vaccinations, staying home if they are sick, and talking to their healthcare provider about exposure to someone with the virus.

More information on the whooping cough can be found HERE.


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