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Health Unit seeing pertussis cases in Huron Perth

Huron Perth, ON – Similar to other areas in southern Ontario, Huron Perth Public Health is seeing cases of pertussis in children. In 2022, there were three cases; in 2023 to date, there have been 21 confirmed cases. Pertussis, also called whooping cough, is a highly contagious bacterial illness.

“The illness can be serious for infants younger than 12 months of age who are not vaccinated, or who have not received all doses of the pertussis vaccine,” says Dr. Miriam Klassen, Medical Officer of Health for Huron Perth. “Young children have the highest risk for severe complications, such as hospitalization and death, if they get sick.”

Pertussis symptoms usually develop within five to 10 days after exposure to someone who has pertussis. The illness begins with mild cold-like symptoms and may progress to severe coughing that can last for two weeks or longer. Some children will make a whoop sound, gag, or vomit while coughing. Pertussis spreads easily through respiratory droplets when someone who is sick coughs, sneezes, or talks, or through direct contact with objects used by that person. 

Vaccination is the best way to prevent pertussis. The pertussis vaccine is part of Ontario’s publicly-funded vaccine schedule and is available through family doctors and public health. The vaccine is given at 2, 4, 6 and 18 months of age, followed by booster doses at 4-6 and 14-16 years of age.

Delays in routine immunizations due to the COVID-19 pandemic may partly explain the increase in cases. Parents are encouraged to ensure their children stay up-to-date with routine immunizations. Pregnant individuals can receive a tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) immunization to protect their baby from pertussis after they are born, and before they can receive vaccines.  Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) immunization when pregnant is estimated to protect about 90% of infants less than three months of age from the illness.

If you or your child are sick, stay home except to seek medical attention. If your child has symptoms of pertussis, contact your primary care provider as soon as possible. Avoid contact with others, especially young children who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated against the illness. In addition, wash hands often, cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue, and clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces.

Contact Us

Huron Perth Public Health

Huron Office
77722B London Road, RR #5, Clinton, ON
N0M 1L0

Perth Office
653 West Gore St., Stratford ON N5A 1L4
Toll-free 1-888-221-2133

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