Elementary school student diagnosed with diphtheria in Medicine Hat, Alta.
AHS says child has not required hospitalization
An elementary school student in Medicine Hat, Alta., has been diagnosed with a rare, potentially fatal bacterial disease called diphtheria.
Health officials say the Elm Street School student had not been travelling outside Canada and is not known to have been in contact with anyone else diagnosed with the disease.
Officials say diphtheria is treatable with antibiotics and preventable through immunization.
Alberta Health Services says the child has not required hospitalization.
The province sent a letter to parents of Elm Street School students on Tuesday.
Dr. Lizette Elumir, medical officer of health, says no others at the school have had to be isolated and the risk to the public is very low.
"We have already contacted and managed every presumed contact," she said.
Diphtheria symptoms can include sore throat, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, bloody nasal discharge and fever.
This diphtheria case raises the issue of some people choosing not to vaccinate their children, said Elumir.
The vaccine is effective but there is waning immunity over time. Some people may need a booster shot every 10 years.
Alberta Health Services says there were no cases of diphtheria in Alberta between 2008 and 2016. In 2017 there was one case in Edmonton and another in Calgary.
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