In a follow-up on the pertussis, or whooping cough outbreak that was declared in Alberta’s South Zone last week, public health officials report that additional pertussis cases, not linked to this outbreak, have been confirmed across Alberta.

The total confirmed cases province wide is 178 in 2017 to date with Central Zone reporting the most with 77 cases. In South Zone, where the outbreak was declared, 38 of the 46 cases confirmed in to-date, are considered linked to the current outbreak.

Alberta pertussis

Alberta Health Services says to reduce the risk to South Zone residents, and all Albertans, we need to ensure as many people as possible are up to date with their immunizations.

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.

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.