Whooping cough outbreak declared in Alberta’s central region

EDMONTON – Due to a continued rise in the number of whooping cough (or pertussis) cases, Alberta Health Services has declared an outbreak in its Central Zone.

So far this year, 107 cases have been confirmed in the central region of Alberta this year. Seven of those have required hospitalization.

The bacterial infection causes severe coughing that lasts for weeks. It can also lead to pneumonia, convulsions, brain damage and even death. Infants six months of age and younger are at greatest risk for these serious complications, according to AHS.

Because of that, AHS has increased the number of immunization appointments available in the region. The appointments are specifically intended for the following residents:

  • infants and pre-school aged children who are not up-to-date on immunizations;
  • caregivers and close contacts of infants such as parents, grandparents, nannies, child care staff (e.g. daycare centres and family day homes);
  • health care workers; and
  • women who are at least, or greater than, 26 weeks pregnant. According to AHS, immunizing women at or after 26 weeks of pregnancy is safe, and increases protection for newborn infants.

In Alberta, pertussis immunizations are offered free of charge through the province’s routine childhood immunization program.

READ MORE: What caused a whooping cough epidemic in California? Scientists blame parents

Anyone who suspects they, or a family member, may be sick with pertussis should stay at home and call a family physician or Health Link Alberta, toll-free at 1-866-408-LINK (5465).

You can find out more about whooping cough here.

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© Shaw Media, 2014

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