nb-mi-child-cough-300

There have been 47 cases of whooping cough diagnosed in New Brunswick, mainly among children. (Stock)

The Department of Health says there is an outbreak of whooping cough in New Brunswick.

Dr. Eilish Cleary, the chief medical officer of health, said in a release Wednesday there have been 47 cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, confirmed in the province.

Most of the affected people are aged nine to 14, she said, and the majority of cases have been reported in the Moncton and Saint John areas.

"Because New Brunswick is experiencing a higher number of whooping cough cases than usual. Public Health is monitoring the situation closely and working with health-care professionals and the public to decrease the risk," Cleary said.

"The best way to protect against whooping cough is through immunization which is part of the New Brunswick Routine Immunization Schedule. The schedule includes immunization of children, adolescents and adults."

In January, the highly contagious bacterial infection was confirmed at two schools in the province – Forest Hills Elementary School in Saint John and Riverview Middle School in Riverview.

Health officials were encouraging people to get immunized against the disease.

Whooping cough is a disease of the lining of the respiratory tract that is caused by the Bordetella Pertussis bacterium. 

 It begins with cold-like symptoms including sneezing, runny nose, low-grade fever and mild cough and worsens over a period of several weeks to include serious coughing spells that often end with a "whoop," Cleary said in the release.

Whooping cough is easily transmitted from person to person, mainly through droplets from the nose, mouth and throat of an infected person.

Cleary said that whooping cough is most dangerous for babies and young children who have not received all doses of the whooping cough vaccine. Expectant parents and anyone in close contact with babies and young children should ensure that their immunization is up-to-date.

In January 2011, Cleary reported there were 14 cases of whooping cough in the Moncton area. In 2009, there were a total of 15 cases province-wide.