Firm retracts whooping cough remedy claim

Fraser Health said vaccination drive was undercut, health hazard posed

Dr. Paul Van Buynder is chief medical health officer for the Fraser Health Authority.

A Port Coquitlam firm that claimed its oil of oregano product is an effective alternative to the whooping cough vaccine has apologized for misleading the public after the Fraser Health Authority ordered a correction.

Enerex Botanicals Ltd. published the retraction in Vancouver daily newspapers but did not go as far as chief medical health officer Dr. Paul Van Buynder wished.

“I am disappointed that the company has not taken the additional step of recommending vaccination to prevent the transmission of whooping cough,” he said, calling it the best protection against the illness, also known as pertussis.

“We continue to see new cases of whooping cough in Fraser Health and are concerned that we may see an increase now that kids are back in school.”

Fraser Health said Enerex did comply with Van Buynder’s directive under the Public Health Act to correct the misinformation in a previously published advertisement, which showed oil of oregano alongside a broken syringe and read: “The natural way to help combat whooping cough… It’s nice to know vaccines aren’t the only choice to combat this disease.”

Fraser Health has experienced a significant whooping cough outbreak over the past year and public health officials say some parents’ unfounded opposition to vaccine use can worsen the spread.

In his letter to Enerex, Van Buynder said the firm created a health hazard because the ad was likely to discourage vaccination and hamper efforts to fight the outbreak, putting small children at risk of hospitalization or even death.

Van Buynder said many natural products and behaviours can enhance a person’s ability to fight and resist infections and disease, including eating well and getting enough sleep and exercise, but said they can’t prevent disease transmission.

The firm said it did not intend to infer oil of oregano is as effective as vaccination against whooping cough, but maintained the product has “antibacterial and antiviral properties” and characterized the incident as a “misunderstanding.”

Van Buynder, his counterpart at Vancouver Coastal Health and B.C.’s provincial health officer have also urged Health Canada to investigate the incident as a potential violation of federal legislation governing health advertising.

As of Sept. 5, there have been 328 confirmed and suspected cases of whooping cough in the Fraser Health region since the outbreak began in the Hope-Chilliwack area last December.

There were 23 new cases in the last four weeks and there have been no fatalities to date.

All adults in regular contact with young children are urged to get the free whooping cough vaccine via a doctor or participating pharmacist.

So far Fraser Health has distributed 36,000 doses but that’s short of its target of immunizing 50,000 to 75,000 adult caregivers in order to reduce the chances of infection for vulnerable infants.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This Crescent Beach home, located at 12505 22 Ave., was subject of a police search warrant June 18. (Google image)
Civil Forfeiture Office alleges Crescent Beach home used to launder money

Court documents request the home, and $85,000 to be turned over to the government

Surrey firefighters battle a house fire near the 70A Avenue and 126A Street intersection early Sunday morning. According to a witness, it appears that the occupants were able to get out without injury. (Shane MacKichan photos)
PHOTOS: Fire causes extensive damage to Surrey home

Occupants able to escape without injury: witness

Preliminary results indicate a Surrey-Cloverdale win for the NDP’s Mike Starchuk. (File)
Mike Starchuk leading Marvin Hunt in Surrey Cloverdale

MAP: B.C. provincial election results for Surrey-Cloverdale

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Mounties looking for teen boy ‘unlawfully at large’ from Riverview psychiatric hospital

Nolan Godron left the hospital, located at 2721 Lougheed Highway in Coquitlam, without consent on Saturday

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Most Read