On June 16, 2017, Alberta Health Services (AHS) sent a letter for staff, parents and guardians at Cardston Elementary School informing them that there was a case of Whooping Cough, or Pertussis, at the facility. Since then we have been informed by AHS that there have been additional cases reported at the Cardston Preschool and Cardston Junior High School.
Please do everything you can to prevent the spread of this disease to others, and protect yourself and your family.
The following recommendations from from Alberta Health Services:
If you or your child has symptoms of pertussis (Whooping Cough), please stay home from school, work, or any public place or social activity. Pertussis is very contagious.
Whooping Cough is caused by bacteria. Common symptoms include:
- Starts as a cold with runny nose, sneezing, fever up to 39.4 degrees Celsius (103 degrees Fahrenheit), and mild cough.
- The cough becomes gradually more severe with repetitive coughing spells, often followed by a whooping sound when the child is breathing in, and/or vomiting followed by a coughing spell.
- Older children and adults may experience milder symptoms, such as a prolonged cough with or without coughing fits and no whoop.
Children under one year of age are especially vulnerable, and may need hospitalization to help recover from this illness. Women who are in their last trimester of pregnancy are also at risk of spreading the illness to their newborn babies.
- Pertussis is treatable with antibiotics. It is important that you contact your doctor if you suspect you, or your child has pertussis. Take this letter with you so your doctor knows of the pertussis exposure and can do the proper testing (N/P swab), if indicated.
- If you or your child is diagnosed with pertussis, stay home from school, work, church, public places, and other social settings for 5 days after you have started antibiotics. If treatment is not started, you must stay home for 21 days after the start of your symptoms.
- Immunization is recommended to prevent infection or to reduce severity of illness. Please contact your Public Health Clinic to inquire if your child or children are fully immunized and to make an appointment.
In an email sent out this morning by Superintendent Ken Sommerfeldt, we have asked our staff to take the following precautions at school:
Please remind students:
- If they have a nasty cough they should stay home
- Understanding that many students are writing exams,
- Coughing into your sleeve is the kindest thing you can do for your close associates.
- Wash hands frequently.
- Have hand sanitizer available for student and staff use.
- Don't share water bottles or drinking containers.
Remember that the most effective way to prevent diseases like Whooping Cough from infection our communities is to get yourself and your children vaccinated. In a Global News article, Dr. Vivien Suttorp, a medical officer of health for AHS South zone said,
There is one main factor contributing to the large number of cases the area: a lack of vaccinations.
“Eighty-eight per cent of our 58 confirmed confirmed cases linked to this current outbreak have not had immunization,” Suttorp said. “If there is a community where everybody is immunized with the exception of maybe a couple of infants, we would never see numbers take off at this rate. We would never see such a rapidly increasing size and expansion of an outbreak.”
Westwind School Division urges all parents and guardians to please vaccinate their children to help ensure that our schools are welcoming, safe, and healthy places for everyone to come.