nb-mi-child-cough-300

P.E.I.'s chief health officer is warning doctors to watch for whooping cough symptoms. (Stock)

P.E.I.'s chief health officer is asking doctors across the province to be on the lookout for patients who may have whooping cough symptoms, following a recent outbreak in New Brunswick.

Dr. Heather Morrison said there have been no reported cases on the Island, but 47 cases have been found in New Brunswick, mostly in the Moncton and Saint John areas.

Pertussis, better known as whooping cough, is a bacterial infection that can get into the lungs. It can be life threatening for very young children.

"We have sent a notice out to all physicians alerting them to this outbreak in New Brunswick and asking them just to be aware of the symptoms and testing and treatment of pertussis," said Morrison.

"The main symptoms really are they start off like a cold, with a runny nose, a little bit of a low fever, coughing and sneezing. And then over the next one to two weeks, the cough becomes more severe and it occurs in coughing spells and sometimes there is that whoop sound at the end of it. And sometimes they cough so hard they vomit."

The province has introduced a number of immunization programs against the illness in recent years, said Morrison and she's hoping this will provide the protection needed to prevent an outbreak.