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Apr 17, 2018

Health Ministry Checking for Cases of Whooping Cough

The Ministry of Health is actively following up on a confirmed case of a visitor with Pertussis or what’s more commonly known as whooping cough. According to the Ministry, on Friday, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) informed them of a confirmed case of Pertussis of a visitor who visited Belize in the third week of March this year. According to MOH, the CDC says that the visitor was considered infectious during travel in Belize. Since that alert, the Ministry has activated an investigative team to follow up with as many contact persons the infected person may have come in contact with. So far, the Ministry has no confirmed case detected in Belize as a result of this infected tourist but they continue to monitor. Today we spoke with Dr Ethan Gough of the Ministry of Health who shares what you need to know about what the Ministry is doing and what you need to know about whooping cough.

 

Ethan Gough

Dr. Ethan Gough, Epidemiologist, Ministry of Health

“What we are focusing on in terms of identifying people, is that we are identifying as best as possible the places where this family with the sick individual stayed, the place they visited and we are following up with the employees of those places as potential contacts. Those are the ones we are able to identify, as that the person may have come in contact with other people and we don’t know. So, what we are doing in that case is that we are following up on the vaccine – vaccination schedules of these employees to make sure that they are up to date and if any of them are showing any signs or symptoms because whooping cough can be treated with antibiotics. So, those people would need to be treated and we also need to determine their contacts and whether their contacts are up to date with their vaccines and whether their contacts are  showing any signs of illness and need any treatment.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“On the topic of vaccines – how protected are we who have been vaccinated before?”

 

Dr. Ethan Gough

“As long as you completed the vaccine schedule that covers pertussis (whooping cough) then you should be fine. The cough can also come along with vomiting before and after the cough. The fits of coughing tend to have a characteristic of a whooping noise that often comes at the end of the episode or coughing fit. So, those are the two things that make it a bit more distinct than just a regular cough. I guess there is also potentially, especially in children, risk of more severe illness like pneumonia, for example. But we do not think that our children are at high risk in this situation because vaccine cover in children is fairly high. It is the adults where the vaccine cover is a bit lower, so potential there is some risk there.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“How soon would someone [unvaccinated] who has been in contact with an infected person – a person with pertussis – show symptoms?”

 

Dr. Ethan Gough

“The average is about two weeks. “

 

Andrea Polanco

“So, from since that person was here to now, if someone had contracted it – would they be showing signs or symptoms already?”

 

Dr. Ethan Gough

“Yeah. The period that the person was here from when they came in to when they left, we are expecting if anyone who came in contact with this individual got infected they should begin to show signs sometime around now or next week.”

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