Whooping cough cases average in Saskatchewan
Some parts of Canada are seeing an outbreak of whooping cough. Alberta has seen at least 42 cases, and Ontario has had 240 cases reported.
Saskatchewan's deputy chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, says there are cases of whooping cough in the province every year, but Saskatchewan is seeing an average number of cases so far in 2012.
The bacteria that causes whooping cough, pertussis, works in a three to five year cycle. Saskatchewan saw a spike in 2010.
"We saw a total of about 70-80 cases in infants," said Dr. Shahab, "and unfortunately, six deaths in infants." Since then, Saskatchewan has been practicing new strategies which has protected people so far.
The first is having young adults get a booster shot that protects them from the pertussis bacteria. Vaccinations are given to infants when they are two, four and six months old. Children also get booster shots at 18 months and four years old. In 2003, Saskatchewan started giving booster shots to children in grade eight. Now, the province recommends people get another booster around the age of 24.
Another method is the cocoon strategy, which applies to people who are around newborn babies.
"This applies to mothers who can get a booster when they're delivering, and other close care givers (like) partners and grandparents."
The theory is that if people around a baby are protected from pertussis, the infant will be protected. Dr. Shahab cautions that any cough should be taken seriously. A mild cough for an adult can be very dangerous for a baby.