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Whooping cough outbreak seizes southern Alberta


Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 6:16 PM -

A reluctance to get immunized could be contributing to a resurgence of 'medieval' diseases.

Officials across the country are scrambling to control a measles outbreak and, in some places, that has been compounded by whooping cough. 

Southern Alberta is in the midst of a health crisis, with 34 cases of the disease reported in Lethbridge over the past three months.

British Columbia's west Kootenay region reported a similar issue in October, after 19 cases of whooping cough were confirmed.


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Doctors are urging residents to get vaccinated. That can reduce the risk of contracting the disease by up to 90 percent.

WHAT IS WHOOPING COUGH?

Whooping cough is a respiratory disease that can lead to severe and painful coughing fits.

It can be particularly harmful to children and infants.

 Dr. Vivien Suttorp, Chief medical officer for Alberta Health Services south zone, told Global News that whooping cough is "very contagious."

"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,” she says.

Health officials say that Lethbridge experiences an outbreak every three to five years due to the area's low vaccination record.

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