New Brunswick

Whooping cough outbreak declared in Miramichi

The regional medical officer of health has declared an outbreak after eight cases of pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, were reported in the Miramichi region. 

8 cases of pertussis spread across 4 schools

Symptoms usually begin within seven to 10 days of exposure and resemble the common cold. (Shutterstock)

The regional medical officer of health has declared an outbreak after eight cases of pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, were reported in the Miramichi region. 

In an email from the Department of Health, Dr. Yves Leger is asking health-care providers in the area to be vigilant for the infection.

The eight cases of whooping cough are in four Miramichi schools. Two schools, North and South Esk Elementary and Dr. Losier Middle School, are in Anglophone North School District.

In an email the district's communications officer Meredith Caissie said the two affected schools are working closely with Public Health and following all directives.  

"Public Health has provided letters to the schools affected, and those have been sent home to parents," Caissie said. "Our schools will continue to work with Public Health."

The other two schools haven't been disclosed.

In the release, Leger is also recommending health-care providers encourage patients to be up-to-date on their pertussis immunization.

Public Health advises it is especially important for pregnant women (between 27 and 32 weeks gestation, ideally), infants and close contacts of any newborns.

Symptoms resemble common cold

Symptoms usually begin within seven to 10 days of exposure and resemble the common cold. They can include sneezing, runny nose, low-grade fever and a mild cough that gradually worsens, leading to serious coughing spells that often end with a "whoop."

The cough can last up to two months and may become so severe it causes the infected person to gag or vomit.

If left untreated, an infected person can spread the disease for up to three weeks after the coughing begins.

The disease can be diagnosed through a nose culture or blood test. It is treated with antibiotics.

It can become serious enough to lead to hospitalization, especially in infants.

In New Brunswick, health officials recommend children have doses of the pertussis vaccine at two months, four months and six months, then again at 18 months and at four years old. There is also a booster dose in Grade 7.

Adults should also receive a dose of a pertussis-containing vaccine because immunity decreases over time.

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