The Vancouver Island Health Authority alerted parents last week to a case of whooping cough at Oaklands Elementary School in Victoria.
Health officials warn that children at the school may have been in contact with the pertussis-causing bacterium which spreads via coughing.
According to HealthLink BC, whooping cough symptoms occur in three stages and may last 6-10 weeks or longer.
Young children are more prone to follow through the three-stage progression, whereas symptoms in adults and older children may progress differently.
HealthLink BC‘s Description of the Three Stages of Whooping Cough
In stage 1, symptoms are like those of a cold:
- You sneeze and have a runny nose, a mild cough, watery eyes, and sometimes a mild fever.
- The symptoms last from several days to 2 weeks.
- This is when you are most likely to spread the disease.
In stage 2, the cold symptoms get better, but the cough gets worse.
- The cough goes from a mild, dry, hacking cough to a severe cough that you can’t control.
- You may cough so long and hard that you can’t breathe. When you can take a breath of air, it may make a whooping noise.
- After a coughing fit, you may vomit and feel very tired.
- Between coughing fits, you feel normal.
- Symptoms are most severe in this stage. They usually last 2 to 4 weeks or longer.
In stage 3, you still have symptoms, but you feel better and grow stronger.
- The cough may get louder.
- Coughing fits may happen off and on for weeks.
- Coughing fits may flare up if you get a cold or have a similar illness.
- This stage may last longer if you have never had the vaccine.
The severity of symptoms also depends whether you’ve been vaccinated and, if so, how long ago that vaccination was.
The disease is dangerous in young children. Infants under a year old are especially susceptible.
A full recovery requires antibiotic treatment.
Island Health is asking that parents ensure that their children’s immunizations are up to date for pertussis.
If your child develops a persistent cough, contact your family doctor and have a special throat swab done to check for the disease.