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