News Release: Rising Cases of Pertussis in Windsor-Essex County

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, March 21, 2023 |  10:30 a.m. | Windsor and Essex County 

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit Warns Community of Rising Cases of Pertussis (Whooping Cough) in the Region

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) is urging individuals to keep themselves up to date with the pertussis vaccine after a recent dramatic rise of cases in the region.

Since November 1, 2022, the WECHU has received reports of 18 cases of pertussis in our area. Cases have predominately been clustered in the Leamington and Kingsville communities, and exclusively in children who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.

Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, is caused by a bacteria called Bordetella pertussis. It is highly contagious and is spread through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Symptoms of pertussis start with a runny nose or nasal congestion, sneezing, mild cough, and mild fever.

Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, acting Medical Officer of Health says, “Some people develop a severe cough that has the characteristic high-pitched whoop. The cough can be so severe as to result in vomiting.” Untreated pertussis in infants, young children, and the elderly can lead to complications such as pneumonia, dehydration, brain damage, hospitalization, and death.

The WECHU advises parents and guardians to be alert to symptoms of the illness which is particularly dangerous in children under the age of one. As a result of the recent increase in cases, the WECHU recommends that healthcare providers consider whooping cough as  possible cause when evaluating patients with respiratory symptoms.  Whooping cough can be treated with antibiotics. 

The WECHU strongly encourages anyone who is not immunized for pertussis to speak to their healthcare provider about vaccination.