Eastern Townships seeing spike in whooping cough

Public Health officials in the Eastern Townships are warning of a recent explosion in the number of reported cases of whooping cough in the region.

Since the start of the year there have been 24 confirmed cases. The five year average for the same period is 12.

The CIUSSS of Estrie - CHUS said the infection is easily spread through a bacterium in the air that comes from the cough or sneeze of an infected person. In a statement, doctors say being vaccinated is the best way to be protected.

"Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself against whooping cough. The vaccine is 85% effective when three doses have been administered," said Dr. Dr. Melissa Généreux, Estrie Director of Public Health. "It not only reduces the risk of developing the disease, but also reduces the severity of symptoms and the frequency of complications."

Officials said anyone who has been in contact with someone with the infection should contact Info-Santé, especially pregnant women and children under the age of one.

Without treatment, the severe cough can persist for weeks or months and has causes between one and four deaths in Canada each year. It is most dangerous for children under 1-year-old, especially if they are unvaccinated or under-vaccinated.