Southern Health reports a significant increase in cases of whooping cough in the Steinbach area. Dr. Michael Routledge, the Chief Medical Officer of Health, says the average in recent years has been between zero and five cases per year. But, he adds, in 2016, there were 21 cases including seven cases in the last month alone.
"And, those cases, particularly the ones in December, were all amongst children in the first year, infants. That's where we get particularly concerned because young infants are the ones who can get quite sick with this."
He notes whooping cough can lead to pneumonia, brain infections and even death. Dr. Routledge says almost every case they are seeing involves children whose parents chose not to have their children immunized.
"Around Steinbach, we had this jump in cases in the past year but then, last year, we also had a lot of cases in the Morden-Winkler area. Really, in those two areas of the region, we've had a fairly significant resurgence in whooping cough in kids who are quite young; so, at risk. And, when we've met with the families in these cases, they're almost always people who haven't been immunized."
He urges everyone to have their children immunized because whooping cough is entirely preventable.
"It's important for people to understand that we are seeing an increase in cases. The most important thing I would say is that, anyone who hasn't been immunized for pertussis and for whooping cough, now would be a really good time to think about that because it really is a safe, effective vaccine that does work."