More whoop­ing cough cases con­firmed

Roots of Em­pa­thy pro­gram on hold


The num­ber of con­firmed cases of whoop­ing cough in the Five Hills Health Re­gion (FHHR) con­tin­ues to climb, with at least five more added in Septem­ber so far.

That brings the to­tal for the year up to 67, said FHHR public health rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dr. Mark Vooght on Thurs­day.

“We are one of the re­gions with a high num­ber of cases and a high rate,” he told the Times-Her­ald.

“We are one of the high­est in the prov­ince.”

Whoop­ing cough, also known as per­tus­sis, is a res­pi­ra­tory virus that can present like a nor­mal cold at first and then de­velop into a hack­ing cough, which may or may not fea­ture the char­ac­ter­is­tic whoop.

The Times-Her­ald re­ported on Moose Jaw’s on­go­ing out­break last week, but the num­ber of cases con­tin­ues to rise, par­tic­u­larly among chil­dren aged 10 to 15.

While the be­gin­ning of the school year has brought the is­sue back un­der the mi­cro­scope, last April was ac­tu­ally the month with the high­est num­ber of new cases at 13, and Au­gust saw a to­tal of 10 new di­ag­noses.

“Th­ese kids can be quite sick,” Vooght said. “But what we’re see­ing is, if they have been im­mu­nized pre­vi­ously, they are getting less sick than the ones who have not been im­mu­nized or who have been un­der im­mu­nized.”

The most im­por­tant fac­tor in tack­ling the prob­lem, he said, is for peo­ple to con­tinue going to their doc­tors and getting tested. Typ­i­cally, when a school is found to have a con­firmed case, public health and the school send a let­ter home with ev­ery child, en­cour­ag­ing them and their fam­i­lies to be tested for the virus. Vooght said this helps clin­i­cians di­ag­nose cases early and keep the ill­ness from spread­ing.

Of par­tic­u­lar con­cern is ex­po­sure to younger chil­dren, es­pe­cially those un­der one year old.

“The younger they are, they more risk there is,” Vooght said, adding that a child in an­other health re­gion in Saskatchewan died as a re­sult of per­tus­sis in 2010.

For that rea­son, pop­u­lar pro­gram Roots of Em­pa­thy can’t be too care­ful.

Roots of Em­pa­thy is a pro­gram that re­duces bul­ly­ing by rais­ing emo­tional aware­ness in chil­dren, putting them to­gether with par­ents and babies in a class­room.

“We went on hold hop­ing to get back into the class­room be­fore the school year, but that didn’t hap­pen,” said Daycee Richard­son, point per­son for Roots of Em­pa­thy.

The pro­gram fo­cuses on the re­la­tion­ships be­tween chil­dren and babies, so chil­dren un­der­stand how to com­mu­ni­cate us­ing body lan­guage. Chil­dren also learn what some­one may be feel­ing even if it’s not ex­pressed ver­bally.

Par­ents are in­volved as they in­ter­pret and an­swer ques­tions chil­dren may have.

The Roots of Em­pa­thy ini­tia­tive was in­ter­rupted in Fe­bru­ary be­cause of the out­break. Richard­son said it’s not safe

Roots of Em­pa­thy had to stop their pro­gram be­cause of the whoop­ing cough out­break and ex­pect fur­ther de­lays. SUB­MIT­TED

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