An outbreak of whopping cough in southern Alberta has caught the eye of Alberta Health Services.
AHS declared the outbreak in the south zone around Fort Macleod, Cardston and Lethbridge due to a high number of cases.
The outbreak has prompted AHS officals to closely monitor the whooping cough situation in the central zone, which includes Drumheller.
"I know that in central zone there has been an increase number of reported cases over the last three years including this year," stated Dr. Vivien Suttorp, Lead Medical Officer of Health for South Zone for Alberta Health Services. "It is a bit of a hot bed as well for whooping cough that is locally acquired, so not travel related. I know my colleagues in central zone are also covering the pertussis."
Suttorp said the outbreak in the south zone was declared due to the geography of the cases. Many of the affected communities have very low immunization rates.
Whooping cough, also called pertussis, can be very contagious especially for children who are not immunized for it.
Suttorp says pertussis usually starts out with a runny nose, low grade fever and sneezing but can progress into something more serious over a few days or weeks.
"To a more severe cough and this is that significant, repetitive cough that is sort of a hallmark feature of whooping cough," she said. "In young children there may be that inspiratory 'whoop' after a coughing episode,"
Suttorp added that the cough could persist for weeks to months after.
She recommends parents who know their children have been exposed to a whooping cough case and have started developing symptoms should seek medical attention.