34 cases of whooping cough have been confirmed in the last three months in Lethbridge, Alberta, and surrounding areas, according to Global News. Health officials are urging residents to get immunized from the infectious illness if they haven’t already.
Whooping cough, which is medically known as pertussis, is a “very contagious disease caused by a type of bacteria called Bordetella pertussis,” according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). It is spread usually by being in contact with the infected who then cough or sneeze.
The best way to prevent the infectious disease is through vaccination.
“It’s very contagious,” Dr. Vivien Suttorp, chief medical officer for Alberta Health Services south zone, told Global News. “So individuals who haven’t been immunized within a household for example, 90 per cent of individuals in that household will get the disease. Even with schools, 50 to 80 per cent of kids within that school will get the disease as well.”
In the U.S., the commonly acquired vaccination is actually a three-fold vaccination called DTaP or Tdap, depending on whether the individual receiving the vaccination is an infant or child or a preteen, teen, or adult. The vaccination protects from diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, and can be substituted for your regular tetanus shot.
The last outbreak for whooping cough in Lethbridge occurred in June 2012 and led to the death of one infant.
According to the CDC, the disease can start with a slight fever and flu-like symptoms. Progression to the severe cough so associated with the disease takes usually one to two weeks. The severe cough can be rapid and violent and last until there is no air left in the lungs and the person is forced to inhale a breath that sounds like a “whoop.” The extreme cough can leave a person very tired and even make him or her throw up.
Suttorp said that due to the area’s low vaccination record, outbreaks are not uncommon every three to five years. The disease can be dangerous for adults but is especially dangerous for infants.
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