Cluster of whooping cough cases hits Rosthern and area

Deputy medical health officer in Saskatoon, Dr. Simon Kapaj, speaks to media on Wednesday. (Saskatchewan Health Authority/Screenshot)

Jayda Noyes, Daily Herald

A Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) doctor is warning the public about whooping cough after 25 cases were confirmed in Rosthern and surrounding communities.

Dr. Simon Kapaj spoke to media in Saskatoon on Wednesday. The SHA posted a video of the conference on their website along with facts about the illness.

All 25 cases were confirmed after Oct. 1 in and around Rosthern, which is about 45 minutes south of Prince Albert.

“We have the vaccine, the vaccine is free and we are able to provide that shot, so from that, I think we shouldn’t see whooping cough cases at all,” said Kapaj.

It’s also available across Saskatchewan year-round at public health clinics.

He said most of the cases were in people under 18-years-old and and half were under 5-years-old.

“So the question that comes to us is ‘Why children?’ he asked. “Some (parents) are hesitant, some of them don’t have the necessary time to go to the public health clinic to get the shot and some, they don’t know that their child is not up to date.”

“One child has been less than two-months-old. Certainly the child was unimmunized. He was hospitalized, but he is fully recovered and he was discharged home,” he said.

Kapaj said a key point he hopes to get across is pregnant women should get the vaccine to protect themselves and their babies.

“The complications that we see in babies are more serious than others,” he said, adding it can cause lung infections, seizures and death.

The vaccine is provided at two, four, six and 18 months of age, and then boosters at four to six years, in grade eight and after 18-years-old.

Kapaj said the cluster in one area is of concern because it suggests many aren’t immunized.

But there are additional ways to prevent whooping cough.

“We persist in getting the shot because that guarantees protection, especially for children, but personal hygiene, hand washing and staying away from people that are sick (also helps),” he said.

Kapaj said the SHA has been working with municipalities in the area to spread awareness about getting the vaccine.