The Ministry of Health has developed certain strategies in order to help prevent a full-blown outbreak of whooping cough in Saint Lucia after two cases of the disease were confirmed.
The ministry will be launching an intensified ‘Immunization Drive’ aimed at capturing and protecting all children who may have missed or who may not have been immunized, which will take immediate effect.
Community Health teams will engage in an active search for persons, particularly children less than five years of age, who have not received the required vaccination coverage.
The ministry also plans to expand vaccination services such that walk- ins can be immunized at Wellness Center daily, rather than only at once weekly vaccination clinics.
Other measures to be taken include thorough investigation of all suspected and confirmed cases of disease will be conducted and promotion of flu hygiene practices particularly within locations where infants and young children routinely congregate.
One child aged 4 weeks old and a second child aged five months old are currently admitted and receiving treatment in hospital for the whopping cough and are reported to be doing well.
Whooping cough (pertussis) is a serious, contagious, respiratory infection caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis.
The disease begins like a cold and then the characteristic cough develops. This cough may last up to three months, even after antibiotic treatment is completed and the person is no longer infectious.
The ‘whoop’ (which is not always obvious) is due to a deep breath at the end of a bout of coughing. Vomiting after coughing is common.
Whooping cough is particularly dangerous for babies less than six months of age. They are affected more seriously by the disease than older children or adults, and are more likely to develop complications.