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Whooping cough cases increase in southern Alberta outbreak

Alberta Health Services says it’s seeing a jump in whooping cough cases in the province’s south.

The provincial health authority says there are 146 cases of pertussis, more commonly known as whooping cough, in the area.

An outbreak was declared Jan. 26, but AHS says the number of cases has increased by 120 over the last week.

It says most of the cases have been found in Medicine Hat and Lethbridge, and are most common among children between the ages of one and nine.

AHS says since the outbreak was declared, five children have been hospitalized, but there have been no deaths reported.

It says early symptoms of whooping cough are similar to that of a cold with intense bouts of coughing starting about a week after initial symptoms.

AHS recommends that those with early symptoms seek medical treatment sooner rather than later to reduce the risk of further health complications.

“AHS is issuing a reminder to all people of the importance of immunization, particularly in small children, to prevent further illness,” AHS said in a statement Thursday.

“It can impact people of all ages but infants one year and younger are at greatest risk of serious complications, including pneumonia, convulsions, brain damage and death.”

Cases have been identified at schools and other community locations such as churches and sites where children gather to take lessons, Alberta Health Services said.

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