Whooping Cough Outbreak Down but not Out


Nick Murray

The whooping cough outbreak that Moose Jaw has been suffering may be waning down; but it certainly hasn't disappeared.

"For the month of June we recorded only two cases and a single confirmed case so far in July and we expect that in the coming weeks and months we would be able to declare the outbreak over" said Media Relations Consultant for the Saskatchewan Health Authority, Lisa Thomson.
Two cases in June is a marked difference from just a year ago.

In the former Five Hills Health Region (Moose Jaw and area) an outbreak of whooping cough was declared in April 2017. The outbreak followed an increase in the number of confirmed cases in excess of what is expected.

"At its peak, we recorded about 27 cases in a single month. The most impacted age group are children and youth aged between 10-14 years" Thomson told MJ Independent.

"In 2017, we had a total of 123 cases and so far in 2018 we have recorded 29 cases with a trend towards the end of the outbreak."

The Saskatchewan Health Authority would still like more people to get vaccinated and/or update previous vaccinations though."

Whooping cough, which is called Pertussis, clinically, is a vaccine-preventable disease characterized by a mild runny nose, followed by violent coughing spells (paroxysms) that are sometimes associated with a “whoop“ sound or vomit in the younger age groups.

The disease can affect individuals of any age; however, severity is greatest among young infants.  So it's especially recommended that people who are often around young children be up-to-date with their vaccinations.

"Routine vaccinations against pertussis are a key pillar to preventing disease" Thomson stated.

"Pertussis-containing vaccination is recommended at 2, 4, 6 and 18 months of age, 4 years of age, in Grade 8, as well as an adult booster" she noted, adding that "early treatment with antibiotics can prevent complications and reduce the spread of the disease." 

Even if the current outbreak does die off, it's still important to be vaccinated, as Pertussis occurs in cycles that peak at four to five year intervals.  Saskatchewan last experienced peaks in 2015 and 2010, that's including the one it is currently experiencing.

"A number of factors may be responsible for the increased whooping cough activity in our area" Thomson said. "Including increased whooping cough activity in pockets around the province and country; reductions in immunization coverage levels; known reductions in vaccine effectiveness over time hence requiring the additional booster dose in adulthood; and isolated pockets of unimmunized persons who constitute susceptible population pools."

Saskatchewan has a rather progressive vaccination history.

"It was the first province in Canada to implement the routine vaccination of pregnant women to protect their newborn who is the most vulnerable. Natural infection does not result in long-lasting immunity" Thomson said.

To schedule an appointment for immunization please contact your local public health office.
Check the site for the corresponding phone number