The Five Hills Health Region has declared a pertussis outbreak involving school-aged children, within the Five Hills Health Region. Pertussis is a potentially serious and highly contagious infection of the lungs and throat.
Pertussis starts like a common cold with symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, a mild fever and cough that progressively gets worse over the next week or two. Symptoms include severe coughing spells that often end with a whooping sound before the next breath, especially in young children.
Public health personnel have distributed letters to those who may have been in contact with the case or those who develop symptoms as described to contact their family physician. Patients are advised to inform the clinic of their situation when booking the appointment so that they can be masked and moved to an exam room when arriving at the clinic.
Those most vulnerable to pertussis are children less than 1 year of age, pregnant women in their third trimester and anyone unvaccinated or immune compromised. Pertussis-containing vaccines are part of the routine child immunization program (2 months of age to grade 8). An adult vaccine is freely available in the form of TdaP vaccine. Pregnant women who have not previously received TdaP vaccine can safely receive it after 26 weeks gestation. If individuals or their family members have not been vaccinated they should contact public health to make arrangements.