Letter: Whooping cough very dangerous illness

This is in response to recent reminders from Interior Health to make sure we are immunized for whooping cough.

To the editor:

This is in response to recent reminders from Interior Health to make sure we are immunized for whooping cough. It makes me furious that public health says the recent outbreak of whooping cough (pertussis) in our region is affecting non-immunized individuals. That information is completely false.

My family, including myself, contracted it. It all started with my 8-year-old daughter. She has had a constant cough for the last 2 1/2 months. After three weeks of not letting up, I took her to her doctor to get her checked over. He said it would clear up on its own.

Then I came down with the same cough that was so bad I was gasping for air. I saw the doctor at a walk-in clinic and was on antibiotics for one week. It was getting worse. Went back to the clinic and a new doctor who said to me it sounds like pertussis.

I was in shock as I had been immunized for it. He said he was going to treat me with different antibiotic as if I had it (whooping cough). I had my then 10-week-old daughter with me and was worried about her because I had recently taken her to her family doctor because of her cough. That night my baby’s cough was so bad she was gasping for air. I took her to emergency, told them right away I was being treated for pertussis and would like her tested. They refused, saying it was RSV virus, but admitted her for two days. Meanwhile, her RSV test was inconclusive, so they sent it away for further testing. We were discharged and four days later she was turning blue. I took her back and asked for the pertussis test again. We saw the same ER doctor and he said her cough was at its peak and that she would be fine in a few days. They kept her overnight, I felt, just to please me.

When we took her home she was not getting better, only worse—turning blue, gasping for air. I took her back to the hospital, but this time with a very different attitude, I found out that day her RSV test was negative. This time I said: “I am not leaving until you test her for pertussis,” and they admitted her again. In the morning I let the pediatrician listen to the recording of her coughs, and she said right away that she had pertussis.

Then, finally, the lab came in to test her and it was positive.

Now, you think being to the hospital three times with numerous doctors, nurses and pediatricians listening to her cough, someone would recognize it. She was re-admitted, this time for a week in isolation, on antibiotics and steroids to reduce inflammation in her airway. But now, at home, my two-year old daughter is starting to have the same symptoms.

Public health contacted me to investigate. I couldn’t understand how we all got whooping cough since we were all vaccinated. They said vaccinations aren’t 100 per cent. But they only want me to tell the people who are at high risk—pregnant or with babies under three months. They didn’t contact my daughter’s school, though she was the first in our house who contracted it. It makes me so mad that they don’t want people to know how real this disease is, and it can effect those who are fully vaccinated.

I would never want another family to have to go through what we are dealing with now. Pertussis is also called the 105-day cough. There is no cure, you basically suffer for 3 1/2 months. Babies die from this and we are very lucky, but I’m afraid a misdiagnosis on another baby and the outcome might be death.

Tanya Kohlman,



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