There’s been a spike in whooping cough (Pertussis) cases across the area and that’s prompting a reminder from local health officials to make sure residents get immunized and take necessary precautions to limit the spread of the infection.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) says 11 new cases of whooping cough have been confirmed in the past week in Lethbridge, County of Lethbridge and Raymond.

There have now been 38 confirmed cases of whooping cough this year in AHS South Zone. There were 58 cases in this region in all of 2018.

Pertussis is a bacterial infection that causes severe coughing that may last for weeks. It can also impact people of all ages, however young kids are most susceptible.

Local Medical Health Officer, Dr. Lizette Elimur says immunization is the best way to protect against and limit the spread of pertussis. “All residents in South Zone are encouraged to ensure they, and their children, are up-to-date on their shots.”

She notes anyone who is uncertain of their immunization history, or their child’s, can contact their local community health centre or public health office to discuss and to book an appointment.

In Alberta, vaccine that protects against pertussis is offered to children, free of charge, through Alberta’s Routine Childhood Immunization schedule. Pregnant women in the third trimester (26 weeks) are also offered pertussis-containing vaccine. All adults 18 years of age and older are advised to receive one adult dose of pertussis-containing vaccine.

Pertussis illness starts with a runny nose, sneezing, fever and mild cough. Typically, over about a week, 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 in young children.

(With files from AHS South Zone)