PEI

Whooping cough cases triple in a week on P.E.I.

The number of lab-confirmed whooping cough cases has tripled in a week on P.E.I. — with 31 confirmed cases of the highly contagious disease on the Island.

Public Health officials report 31 lab confirmed cases since declaring outbreak

Whooping cough symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, fever, and gradually worsening cough that often ends with a "whooping" sound that can cause the person to vomit. (Serhio Lee/Shutterstock)

The number of lab-confirmed whooping cough cases has tripled in a week on P.E.I. — with 31 confirmed cases of the highly contagious disease on the Island.

"While there has been an increase in cases over these past few days, this is not uncommon during an outbreak," a spokesperson from the Chief Public Health Office said in an email to CBC.

"During an outbreak, typically more cases are investigated, public awareness is increased, and people are more likely to go to their health care professional for testing."

More testing, vaccinations

Health officials say just this week, they have enhanced access to lab testing for the disease. 

Since declaring the outbreak, they've also seen an increase in the number of Islanders looking to get immunized for whooping cough. 

Most Island babies are gradually immunized at two, four, six and 18 months, and only are only considered immunized after all four doses. Booster shots are offered at age four years, and in Grade 9.

Adults are also encouraged to get a free booster dose through Health PEI's public health nursing offices. 

Outbreak could continue for months 

Health officials maintain immunization is the best way to avoid getting infected and spreading the disease. 

They warn that despite their efforts to educate the public and curtail the spread, it is very normal for whooping outbreaks to last several months. 

The Island's last whooping cough outbreak was in 2014.

Symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, fever, and gradually worsening cough that often ends with a "whooping" sound that can cause the person to vomit. 

Whooping cough is especially dangerous for newborns, who can become extremely ill and develop serious complications.

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