AHS Whooping Cough Letter

We would like to post a letter here for all staff, parents, and students in Westwind School Division.

PDF: Letter to Schools and Childcare Providers in South Zone

4 May 2016

Letter to Schools and Childcare Providers in South Zone

Re: Increased Pertussis Activity in South Zone

Whooping Cough (Pertussis) Facts

Over the past two months there have been an increased number of confirmed Whooping Cough (Pertussis) cases in Southern Alberta. It is expected that there is more Pertussis circulating in the community, as many people with the disease may not seek medical attention. 

Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

  • A highly contagious, material infection of the lungs and airways.

  • Pertussis can be a severe - even fatal - illness, particularly in children. 

  • Children under one year of ae are most likely to have serious illness as a result of Pertussis. 

Signs and Symptoms

  • 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. 

  • The cough may last for two months or longer. 

Why is the disease serious?

  • Complications can include serious pneumonia, seizures, brain injury, and death. 

  • Children under one year of age are most likely to require hospitalization. 

  • People with Pertussis are most contagious in the first three weeks after symptoms begin.

How can you protect your child?

  1. Although immunization is always not 100% effective, it is still the best method to protect your child and limit the spread of disease to others. Parents should ensure their children are vaccinated according to Alberta's Routine Childhood Immunization schedule: www.health.alberta.ca/health-info/imm-routine-schedule.html

  2. Pregnant women in the third trimester (26 weeks) who have not previously received an adult dose of Pertussis vaccine are encouraged to receive Pertussis containing vaccine to protect herself and the child in the first weeks after birth. 

  3. It is recommended that immediate family members and caregivers who live in the same household as infants under one year of age are up to date with their Pertussis immunization.

  4. Encourage your child to not share their water bottles, lipstick, lip balm, or drinks. 

If you wish to immunize your children or yourself against Pertussis, or need to check immunization status, please call your public Health office to make an appointment (see the attached list of offices in southern Alberta).

Treatment

  • A lab test will only be positive in the first three weeks after the start of symptoms.

  • Antibiotics help prevent the spread of pertussis to others. Although taking antibiotics may not change the course of your child's illness, it will shorten the time he/she must stay home. 

  • Anyone diagnosed with pertussis must:

    • Stay at home from school, work, church, public places, and other social settings for five days after the start of antibiotics.

    • Stay home twenty-one days after the start of your symptoms if antibiotics are not taken.

Contacts of confirmed cases with pertussis

  • Public health will follow up with contacts of confirmed cases. Antibiotics to prevent infection are only recommended for certain at risk people (infants and pregnant women in their third trimester or their family members. NOT for all contacts.

Contact your health care provider immediately if you suspect that you or your child has Pertussis. 

For health advice and information, call Health Link Alberta, 24-hours a day, 8-1-1.

Sincerely, 

Vivien Suttorp, MD, MPH, CCFP, FCFP
Lead Medical Officer of Health
Alberta Health Services - South Zone

Karin Goodison, MD, MPH, FRCPC
Medical Officer of Health
Alberta Health Services - South Zone

Lena Derie-Gillespie, MD, BSW, CCFP
Medical Officer of Health
Alberta Health Services - South Zone