09/01/2012 08:29 EDT | Updated 11/01/2012 05:12 EDT

Whooping cough herb firm to 'follow health authority direction'

A B.C. company ordered to retract a controversial ad for a herbal cure for whooping cough issued a statement on Saturday saying it will follow the direction of Fraser Valley Health Authority on the matter.

Enerex ran into trouble with the health authority when the company ran an advertisement in the Vancouver Sun and Province newspapers describing oil of oregano as an alternative to vaccination against whooping cough, also known as pertussis.

Public health officials demanded the ad for the natural supplement be retracted, saying it undermined the seriousness of the disease, an outbreak of which has occurred in the Lower Mainland in recent months.

In a statement issued Saturday, Enerex said the health and safety of all Canadians is its number one priority and it is taking the Fraser Valley Health Authority's concerns seriously.

"Enerex and the Fraser Valley Health Authority are both concerned with the current outbreak of pertussis in the Lower Mainland," the firm said.

"The company will follow the direction of Fraser Valley Health Authority on this matter and issue a clarification next week."

Whooping cough presents like a normal cold but after a few weeks becomes a long, dry cough. While mostly an annoyance for adults, it can be very serious for children and is extremely contagious.

The vaccination, which is usually effective for between four and 10 years, is available for free at public health clinics or from family doctors.

While early treatment of whooping cough with antibiotics is very effective, it is unclear whether they have any effect in the later stages of the disease.

If left untreated, whooping cough can lead to the development of pneumonia and other more serious complications, which can be fatal. Most deaths are babies under a year old.