Gateway Gazette

Exposure to Whooping Cough Still a Concern at Foothills Composite High School in Okotoks

On May 3rd a letter went out to parents of students attending Foothills Composite alerting them to possible exposure to pertussis (whooping cough). Since early April, 2017, a number of confirmed and suspect cases of pertussis, associated with the high school, have been reported to Alberta Health Services (AHS). Foothills School Division want parents and students to remain vigilante.

The following is a message from the School Division:

Pertussis is a bacterial infection that affects the airways and is easily spread through the air from person to person by coughing or sneezing. People with pertussis may have coughing spells in which they cannot catch their breath between coughs. As they catch their breath at the end of each coughing spell, they may loudly gasp (whoop) and vomit or feel like they are choking.

Pertussis is very contagious, especially in the early stage of the disease.

We ask that students and families of students please watch closely for any symptoms of pertussis. Symptoms can occur up to 21 days after exposure, and include:

  • Common cold symptoms that progress to severe coughing spells over 1-2 weeks.
  • A persistent cough that is worse at night
  • A cough that may be accompanied by a whooping sound when breathing in
  • Coughing spells, which may end in vomiting or gagging

If these symptoms occur, contact your physician. Health information on pertussis can be found at:

The best protection against pertussis is immunization. Pertussis-containing vaccine is recommended for infants, older children, teenagers and adults. Staying up to date with immunization is important because protection from the vaccine wears off over time.

For more information on immunization that protects against pertussis, visit

If you think you may need further doses of pertussis containing vaccine, please contact Health Link at 811 or your closest public health office.

If you have any further questions, please contact the Communicable Disease Unit at 403-955-6750 or Okotoks Public Health Office at 403-995-2600.


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