Community sees increase in whooping cough cases

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The local health unit is urging residents to keep themselves up to date with the pertussis vaccine after a rise in cases in the region.

The Windsor Essex County Health Unit has had 18 cases of whooping cough since November 2022.

Cases have predominately been clustered in the Leamington and Kingsville communities, and exclusively in children who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.

Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, is caused by a bacteria called Bordetella pertussis. It is highly contagious and is spread through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Symptoms of pertussis start with a runny nose or nasal congestion, sneezing, mild cough, and mild fever.

“Some people develop a severe cough that has the characteristic high-pitched whoop. The cough can be so severe as to result in vomiting,” said Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, acting medical officer of health.

The health unit is recommending that healthcare providers consider whooping cough as a possible cause when evaluating patients with respiratory symptoms. Whooping cough can be treated with antibiotics.

Untreated pertussis in infants, young children, and the elderly can lead to complications such as pneumonia, dehydration, brain damage, hospitalization, and death.