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AHS declares Pertussis outbreak in South Zone

Posted on February 1, 2023 by Taber Times

By Ry Clarke

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Alberta Health Services has declared an outbreak of pertussis (whooping cough) in the central part of the South Zone, reminding people of the importance of immunization, especially in young children, to prevent further illness. AHS held a press conference early Friday morning with Doctor Vivien Suttorp (lead Medical Officer of Health for South Zone) to discuss the outbreak, preventable strategies, and communities impacted back the infection.

Communities impacted by the outbreak at this time are the County of Lethbridge, Coaldale, Taber, Vauxhall, Grassy Lake, and Bow Island. AHS notes these areas have significantly low childhood immunization rates, and that by age two, children should have received four doses of pertussis vaccine, whereas in some of these areas, only one-third of two-year-olds have that proper dosage.

“Pertussis is a very serious illness, especially for the very young. Typically, in southern Alberta, we have outbreaks. A large outbreak in 2009, again in 2012/2013, and in 2017 we had about 450 cases that were reported. Now we are in 2023 and overdue for an outbreak,” said Suttorp. “There are 16 cases that we have confirmed, we suspect there are many more out there.” Suttorp notes three of those cases required hospitalization.

Pertussis illness starts with a runny nose, sneezing, fever, and a mild cough.

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