Whooping cough outbreak declared over in southern Alberta

A whooping cough outbreak that was declared in part of southern Alberta last October is over.

34 cases of the highly contagious disease were confirmed

Whooping cough, otherwise known as pertussis, is a bacterial infection that can last for weeks, causing severe coughing. (CBC)

A whooping cough outbreak that was declared in part of southern Alberta last October is over.

Alberta Health Services announced Thursday that the outbreak involved 34 confirmed cases and two probable cases of whooping cough — also known as pertussis.

The affected region included Lethbridge, Lethbridge County, Raymond and a number of surrounding communities.

Whooping cough causes severe coughing and may last for weeks, according to AHS. It can affect people of all ages, but infants are at the highest risk to develop complications, including pneumonia, brain damage, convulsions and death.

Immunization important, AHS says

AHS is recommending all Albertans get immunized to prevent such an outbreak from happening again. 

Those families who are unsure about their immunization history can call Health Link at 811 or any local health centre to discuss or book an appointment.

In Alberta, pertussis vaccines are offered free of charge to children and pregnant women in the third trimester.

Adults who are 18 years or older are advised by AHS to receive an adult dose of the vaccine.

Previous outbreaks

The south zone has seen previous outbreaks, such as in 2017. That outbreak led to 457 cases.

Dr. Vivian Suttorp with AHS told CBC in 2019 that some schools in the area had pertussis immunization rates as low as 20 per cent.

There were 63 confirmed cases of pertussis in the south zone in 2019 and 45 confirmed cases in 2018, according to AHS.


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