Notice from Alberta Health about Whooping Cough

Notice from Alberta Health

7June 2017

Letter to Schools and Childcare Providers in South ZoneRE:

PERTUSSIS (Whooping Cough) Outbreak Declared in South ZoneA Pertussis (Whooping cough)outbreak was declared in South Zone on 5 June 2107, with 17 confirmed cases this year, 12 ofwhich were reported this week and which are all linked.It is expected that there is more Pertussis circulating in the community, as many peoplewith the disease may not seek medical attention. Given historical and immunization data, it is predicted that this illness will spread over the next number of months.

Whooping cough (Pertussis)

A highly contagious, bacterial infection of the lungs and airways.

Pertussis can be a severe –even fatal –illness, particularly in children. In 2012, an infant in Southern Alberta died from Pertussis.

Children under one year of age are most likely to have serious illness as a result of Pertussis.

Signs and symptoms

Pertussis illness starts with a runny nose, sneezing, fever and mild cough. Typically,over about aweek, the cough will become more severe with repetitive coughing spells.

In younger children, these coughing spells are usually followed by a “whooping” sound when inhaling. Vomiting following a coughing spell is also common.

Older children and adults mayexperience milder symptoms, such as a prolonged cough with or without fits or whooping sound.

The cough may last for twomonths or longer.

Why is the disease serious?

Complications can include pneumonia, seizures, brain injury and death.

Childrenunderone year of age are most likely to require hospitalization.

People with Pertussis are most contagiousin the first three weeks after symptoms begin.

How you can protect your child?

1)Immunization is the best method to protect your child and limit the spread of disease to others. Parents should ensure their children are vaccinated according to Alberta’s Routine Childhood Immunization schedule:

2)In Southern Alberta, pregnant women in the third trimester (26 weeks) are offered Pertussis containing vaccine to protect mother and child in the first weeks after birth.

3)All adults, 18 years of age and older, are recommended to have received one adult dose of Pertussis containing vaccine

4)Encourage your child to not share water bottles, lipstick, lip balm, drinks.

Please contact your local Public Health office to review immunization records and/or make an appointment (see the attached list of offices in southern Alberta).


A lab test will only be positive in the first three weeks after the start of symptoms.

Antibiotics are effective in minimizing the spread ofPertussis to others if given early after you start getting sick, although antibiotics may not change the course of Pertussis disease. Antibiotics will decrease the amount of time that you or your child must stay home.

If you or your child is diagnosed with pertussis, stayhomefrom school, work, church, public places and other social settings for 5 daysafter you have started antibiotics. If treatment is not started, you must stay home for 21 daysafter the start of your symptoms.

Public health will followup with contacts of confirmed cases. Antibiotics to prevent infection are only recommended for certain at risk people (infants and pregnant women in their third trimester or their family members), NOT for all contacts.

Contact your health care providerif you suspect that you or your child hasPertussis.

For health advice and information, call Health Link Alberta, 24-hours a day, 811.

Sincerely,Vivien Suttorp, MD, MPH, CCFP, FCFPLead Medical Officer of HealthAlberta Health Services –South Zone

Karin Goodison, MD, MPH, FRCPCMedical Officer of HealthAlberta Health Services –South Zone

Lena Derie-Gillespie, MD, BSW, CCFPMedical Officer of HealthAlberta Health Services –South Zone


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I  appreciate the flexibility that the course provides because unlike other courses in which assignments must be completed in a concrete amount of time, you can learn this course during the time period that works best for your schedule.

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