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Whooping cough outbreak on Haida Gwaii

Outbreak could spread to northwest B.C., beyond

Whooping cough is easily transmitted from person to person, mainly through droplets from the nose, mouth and throat of an infected person. (CBC)

Additional staff have been sent to Haida Gwaii to help Northern Health battle a whooping cough outbreak in northwestern BC. 

There are 104 reported cases - 38 of which are confirmed. 
Haida Gwaii has been hit the hardest, with 14 confirmed cases in Masset, and 14 in Queen Charlotte City. 
Northern Health Acting Chief Medical Officer Doctor Ronald Chapman says this year's outbreak is a substantial increase over other recent years, including an outbreak that occurred in 2008. 
He says the health authority is using extra staff to ensure people get immunized. 

"We've also started immunizing kids instead of two months, we start immunizing kids as soon as six weeks after their born so that we can stimulate their immunity."

Chapman says all ages have been affected by the outbreak, but the highest number of cases seem to be among pre-teen-aged children.

He adds that infants under the age of one, and pregnant women in their third trimester are at the highest risk for developing complications, and that immunization is the best way to prevent the spread. 

Chapman says there are logistical and staffing challenges to addressing the outbreak on the remote island of Haida Gwaii. 

"It doesn't matter what kind of outbreak there is, you've generally got your staff that are trying to cope with the increased demand."

He also says warnings have been sent to other parts of the province.

"There certainly is a risk that it can spread to other areas... especially the northwest. Everybody just needs to be alert."

Symptoms of whooping cough include runny noses, fever, and persistent coughs.

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