A case of whooping cough at a Vernon high school shouldn’t alarm the community.
“It’s nothing to be worried about,” said Dr. Trevor Corneil, medical health officer.
Vernon Secondary School parents were issued a letter from the public health nurse that their child may have been exposed to pertussis.
“This is a precautionary letter as there has been at least one case of pertussis (whooping cough) at VSS,” said principal Malcolm Reid in a letter sent out to parents.
Whenever there is more than one case, Interior Health notifies the school and parents. But the local situation is not an outbreak, said Corneil.
“That’s actually how we keep track of the situation,” said Corneil, as parents are simply asked to watch for symptoms.
The exact number of cases cannot be released due to privacy, nor can immunization information.
Pertussis booster shots are offered locally in Grade 9.
“By Grade 8/9 we’re finding that immunity does wane,” said Corneil, adding that, “in healthy teens and young adults it really doesn’t look like much.”
But for infants, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems it can be more serious.
“It spreads easily from person to person. When someone with the disease coughs, sneezes, or laughs, tiny drops of fluid holding the germ (bacteria) are put into the air,” states the IH letter. “If people with the disease are not treated, they can infect others for up to three weeks after their cough starts.”
Several provinces across B.C. are experiencing outbreaks.
There was a rise in pertussis reported by Interior Health for the first half of 2015 with 58 cases in the region.