Whooping cough outbreak reported by Saskatoon Health Region

The Saskatoon Health Region is asking parents to vaccinate their children against whooping cough.

Region encouraging parents to vaccinate babies

Parents are being asked to immunize their children against whooping cough. (Winnipeg Health Region)

The Saskatoon Health Region is asking parents to vaccinate their children against whooping cough.

The health region has reported 61 cases of the infection, also known as pertussis.

"Pertussis is a bacterial disease that can affect human beings and it causes cough like illnesses and can cause very severe pneumonia," said Dr. Johnmark Opondo, Saskatoon Health Region's Deputy Medical Health Officer. "Pertussis causes very severe illness in newborns and little infants, particularly less than six months of age."

Pertussis can lead to breathing difficulties, hospitalizations and sometimes death.

The health region said whooping cough is highly contagious, and can spread quickly through classrooms and daycares.

They have seen the most cases in the Humboldt, Muenster, and St.Gregor areas but Opondo said pertussis has also been diagnosed in Osler, Rosthern, Duck Lake, Beardy's First Nation, Warman, and Saskatoon.

Dr. Johnmark Opondo, Saskatoon Health Region's Deputy Medical Health Officer. (CBC)
Babies are normally given the pertussis vaccine five times, starting at two months old.The health region estimates that 25 per cent of children are not immunized or under immunized. 

"We do have some communities who opt not to immunize their children. This is a growing concern for us," Opondo said. "We sort of have forgotten how serious this situation can be and why this is a serious childhood illness." 

The health region is also recommending that pregnant women be vaccinated between the seventh and ninth month of pregnancy.

For more information, call the Saskatoon Health Region at 306-655-4612.

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