Interior Health communications administrator Deborah Preston, left, and medical health officer Dr. Karin Goodison update media on declaring an outbreak of meningococcal disease in the Okanagan. One Coldstream secondary school student has been confirmed as having contracted the disease. (Carmen Weld/Black Press)

Interior Health communications administrator Deborah Preston, left, and medical health officer Dr. Karin Goodison update media on declaring an outbreak of meningococcal disease in the Okanagan. One Coldstream secondary school student has been confirmed as having contracted the disease. (Carmen Weld/Black Press)

Meningococcal disease outbreak declared in Okanagan

Five cases in last six months among 15-to-19 year-olds, including one in Coldstream

An outbreak of meningococcal disease in the Okanagan has hit a Coldstream girl hard.

Interior Health declared the outbreak Thursday after having seen an increasing number of cases of the disease in the 15-to-19-year-old age group in the last six months, including the very recent case of a Kalamalka Secondary School Grade 11 student, who remains in hospital in Vancouver in a medically induced coma.

In 2017 there have been 11 cases so far, including one teen who tested positive for the disease who died.

Interior Health is offering meningococcal disease immunization clinics throughout the Okanagan for individuals in Grades 9-12 and persons aged 15-19 who do not attend school.

“The risk to the general population is low,” said Dr. Karin Goodison, medical health officer, during a conference call Thursday. “However, with the increase in the number of cases and the fact that this disease can be prevented through immunization, we felt it important to raise the public’s awareness about this disease, and roll out a campaign to immunize those at the highest risk.

“Immunization is the best form of defence against this disease. We are encouraging all people in this age group who live in the Okanagan to get immunized.”

There have been five cases reported in the last six months: the one in Coldstream, one in the Central Okanagan and three in the South Okanagan.

Meningococcal disease is a bacterial infection that occurs rarely in Canada that is spread from person to person by coughing, sneezing, or close face-to-face contact. It can also spread through saliva. This can occur through activities such as kissing or sharing of food, drinks, cigarettes, lipsticks, water bottles, mouth guards used for sports, or mouthpieces of musical instruments.

“The best way to prevent meningococcal disease is to not, what I call, ‘swap spit,’” said Goodison. “Don’t share glasses, don’t share cigarettes, don’t share your saliva with other people. What happens is the bacteria is transmitted from the nose and mouth of the one carrying the bacteria to other people’s nose and mouth when they have full contact.”

Immunizations started Thursday at a school in Vernon and clinics will continue to roll out at Okanagan schools next week to ensure immunization before winter holidays. Interior Health will also be offering immunization at public health centres for people who are not attending school or who have missed their school immunization clinic.

Please check interiorhealth.ca for more details.

The Meningococcal Quadrivalent vaccine has been part of the routine immunization schedule for B.C. students in Grade 9 since 2016. If you have received this vaccine as part of the Grade 9 immunization program in 2016/2017, you do not need to be re-immunized.

Parents and individuals with questions about their immunization records can call their local health centre.

In 2017, Interior Health has identified 11 cases of meningococcal disease — a majority of these cases were in the Okanagan. Goodison said one person in the 15-to-19 age group in the Okanagan tested positive for meningitis and died, but the cause of the person’s death was unclear.

Interior Health would not release details on the person who died, or give an update on the Kal Secondary student, due to privacy rules.

Typically, the health authority will see less than five cases per year.

For more information about the Meningococcal Quadrivalent vaccine, visit HealthLink BC.

To find an immunization clinic near you, visit interiorhealth.ca.



newsroom@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Lavington Community Association shared this image of the final support beam installed at Jeffers Park in 2020. (Lavington Community Association - Instagram)
COVID-19 halts plans to open Lavington ice rink

Skaters won’t be able to enjoy the newly erected roof at Jeffers Park this season

Deb White, carnival chairwoman, rode in on style Saturday during the parade. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)
Pandemic postpones parade, heart of Vernon Winter Carnival

Interior Health says no to one of B.C.’s only winter parades

An elementary school student misplaced their glucose monitoring device for diabetes and his family and teachers are hoping someone maybe picked it up. (Dexcom)
UPDATE: Vernon student’s missing medical device found

Receiver used to monitor diabetes believed left in snowbank at school

The revitalization of Polson Park is one of the many projects that come to council’s mind that could benefit from the Fortis BC Legacy Fund. (Debbie Gibson photo)
Vernon council considers use of $13M ‘legacy’

Fortis BC Legacy Fund to be discussed further in special meeting of council

Lindsay Palmateer, a Salmon Arm mother of six, succumbed to her injuries after a serious crash Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, south of Enderby. (Contributed)
‘She was everyone’s caretaker’: Salmon Arm mother of six remembered

GoFundMe campaign exceeds goal already for family involved in deadly crash near Enderby

Brett Forsythe battles it out in a game of singles pickleball on ice at Okanagan Training Rink Thursday, Jan. 7 in support of the Vernon Food Bank. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Pickleball play hits the ice in Okanagan

Rivals battle it out in support of the food bank

Penticton’s 7-Eleven is closed due to an employee testing positive for COVID-19, the company announced Jan. 15, 2021. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton 7-Eleven closed after employee tests positive for COVID-19

The store will re-open “on or before” Jan. 23

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government announces creation of B.C.’s first anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

With a second case of COVID-19 confirmed at South Canoe Elementary, parents were advised Thursday, Jan. 14, that the school could be closed for a week or so. (Contributed)
Closure considered after four cases of COVID-19 identified at Salmon Arm school

South Canoe Elementary principal grateful for concern and support shown by public

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Phase 4 of the Kicking Horse Canyon Project is on track, despite COVID-19 and the recent provincial election. (Government of BC photo)
1 month closure planned for Highway 1 near Golden

This closure is expected from April 12 until May 14. Others are planned in the future.

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Megan Freedman’s music video for Perfect was shot at the Lindon House on Ethel Street. (Perfect - Megan Freedman)
Kelowna musician’s anti-bullying anthem receives international award

The music video was shot at Kelowna’s Lindon House

Forestry companies in B.C. agree to abide by the cedar protocols based on traditional laws of the First Nation members of the Nanwakolas Council. (Photo courtesy, Nanwakolas Council)
Landmark deal sees B.C. forest firms treat big cedars like a First Nation would

Western Forest Products, Interfor among companies to adapt declaration drafted by Nanwakolas Council

Most Read