UPDATE: Second VI whooping cough case confirmed in Duncan

An adult in Duncan is the second confirmed case of whooping cough on Vancouver Island since Friday.

It follows a case confirmed in a student at Mount Doug Secondary in Saanich.

Island Health reports Vancouver Island has had 15 confirmed cases since the start of 2019 -- half the amount over the same period in 2018

"What's different this year, is all the attention focused on the recent measles cases in Vancouver," says Dr. Paul Hasselback. "A lot more attention is being paid to these vaccine preventable diseases -- and whooping cough is one of them."

Vancouver also has one case of whooping cough, after a student at a local elementary school tested positive.

Whooping cough, also called pertussis, is highly contagious, and spreads through close contact, and fluids from the nose or mouth of infected people.

Symptoms similar to a Cold

Initial symptoms are similar to a cold, it then progresses to a persistent cough that causes patients to making a pronounced "whoop" sound as they try to catch their breath. They may even cough so hard they vomit or break ribs.

Those infected require antibiotics, and should be isolated for five days until the infectious stage passes. The cough can last for several weeks.

Pertussis can cause complications like pneumonia, seizures, and brain damage. But infants are most vulnerable: One out of every 170 who contracted pertussis -- die from it.

Pertussis is preventable with a vaccine that is part of the immunization protocol for children. The first shot is given before the first birthday, again at about 18 months of age, and upon starting Kindergarten. There is a final booster for children in Grade 9.

Adults who were not immunized as children can get vaccinated for free. As well, because the vaccine does not protect for life, a booster dose is recommended for adults, however it's not provided for free in B.C.

During outbreaks health officials may provide free vaccinations to women who are 26 weeks pregnant, or more, to protect them and their newborns.

Vancouver Island experienced outbreaks in 2015, 16 and 17 -- with the largest outbreak in 2016, when 374 people became ill.

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