In a follow-up on the pertussis, or whooping cough outbreak in Alberta, Canada, Alberta Health Services (AHS) puts the case tally at 501 year-to-date. This is nearly triple the number of cases reported less than two months ago.

“We had hoped to see the spread of this outbreak slow during the summer months, but that hasn’t happened, said Dr. Karin Goodison, Alberta Health Services’ medical officer of health.

“We’re seeing more and more cases with each passing week.”

The concern now is how bad it will get as school prepares to get back in session.

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AHS says to reduce the risk to Albertans, we need to ensure as many people as possible are up to date with their immunizations.

Please be sure that you and your children are up to date on all recommended immunizations, including those that protect against pertussis.

Pertussis (whooping cough) is a bacterial infection of the airways. It is easily spread (by sneezing or coughing) and by direct contact with someone who is infected. The pertussis bacteria can live for two to five days on dry objects like clothes, glass or paper.

The infection can cause coughing so severe that children and adults can have difficulty breathing or eating, and the coughing can last for months. Pertussis can lead to pneumonia, convulsions, brain injury and even death. Children with serious complications may require long-term hospitalization, and babies are particularly vulnerable, including to death.

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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.

Older children and adults may experience milder symptoms, such as a prolonged cough with or without fits or whooping sound; however, in anyone, the cough may last for two months or longer.