Saskatoon Health Region is encouraging parents to get their infants vaccinated for pertussis, also known as whooping cough, following 61 reported cases across Saskatoon Health Region.

Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by bacteria spread by direct contact with droplets from the nose and throat of an infected person. The bacteria spreads easily when people are in close contact in households, classrooms and childcare centres.

WATCH: Deputy Medical Health Officer at Saskatoon Health Region, Dr. Johnmark Opondo for details

Dr. Johnmark Opondo/Video Screen Shot
Dr. Johnmark Opondo/Video Screen Shot

Symptoms usually develop 7 to 10 days after a person has become infected but can occur anywhere from 5 to 21 days later.

The first signs of illness are usually a runny nose and an irritating cough, similar to the common cold. Within days, the cough becomes more frequent and severe, often occurring in attacks. The cough can last 6 to 10 weeks.

The coughing attack may end with vomiting and/or shortness of breath. A characteristic “whoop” at the end of the coughing spell is common in children under one year of age.

Vaccination is available to:

  • Children at two, four, six, and 18 months of age, and again between four to six years of age
  • Children in Grade 8
  • Pregnant women after 26 weeks of pregnancy
  • Adults when they are due for their 10-year tetanus and diphtheria booster
  • Adult caregivers of infants less than 6 months old who have not received an dose of tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis booster as an adult.

According to Opondo, a rough estimate on pertussis vaccinations would be that 25% of population are either behind or not vaccinated against pertussis.

Find immunization locations at Child Health Clinics for those children who may be behind in their immunizations.  Adults who are eligible for funded Tdap vaccine and unable to attend the drop-in clinics, contact the International Travel Centre to book an appointment.