Communicable Disease

Pertussic (Whooping Cough) Outbreak!

Recently, a Pertussis (Whooping Cough) outbreak was declared in the South Zone of Alberta by Alberta Health Services (AHS). To reduce the risk to South Zone residents, and all Albertans, we are striving to ensure as many people are up to date with their immunizations, as possible.

Pertussis is a contagious bacterial infection that affects the lungs. It caused swelling to the airway, making it difficult to breath. Early symptoms are comparable to the common cold, with symptoms such as runny nose, low-grade fever, and a mild cough. Later stage and more severe symptoms include a severe ‘whooping’ cough, which can also cause vomiting and severe exhaustion. Untreated pertussis can lead to Pneumonia, convulsions, brain injury, and even death.

Pertussis is most contagious up to 2 weeks when the cough begins. Use of antibiotics may shorten the amount of time someone is contagious.

Pertussis (Whooping Cough) is spread from person to person, from coughing or sneezing, or even being in contact with a contaminated surface.

Obtaining an immunization is the most effective prevention of Pertussis, and it is important to check with your local health office to make sure your immunizations are up to date. The DTaP vaccination, which stands for Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis, becomes ineffective after 10 years post immunization. While vaccination is the most effective form of prevention, there is no 100% guarantee. Which is why, the more people that get protected with immunizations, the more protected our community with be.

(CDC, 2017)

AHS recommends, if you are experiencing Pertussis symptoms, call your family physician clinic or the U of L Health Centre (403-329-2484) and inform them of your symptoms when booking an appointment.

To prevent further spread of the Pertussis infection, please:  

  • Avoid people with an obvious illness (such as a person who is coughing or sneezing).
  • Stay at home when sick.
  • It is good to practice coughing into your elbow instead of your hands, with that said, make sure you wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water to avoid spreading bacteria.
  • Make sure your utensils, table, and general eating area are clean.
  • Make sure you follow good hygiene practices. These include regular sanitation of kitchen countertops, sanitary food preparation, proper bathroom procedures and cleaning.
  • Contact your local Public Health Office to see if you are up to date on immunizations.
  • Ask about getting a dTap booster.

More information about Pertussis can be found online at:

For Campus Communicable Disease Issues please contact: Lori Weber 403-329-2501 

For Medical Care, students can contact: Your Family Physician (if you have one in Lethbridge) or the University of Lethbridge Health Centre 403-329-2484