FREDERICTON (CNB) – An outbreak of whooping cough (Pertussis) has been declared in the Moncton and Miramichi areas.

“Some areas of our province are experiencing a higher number of whooping cough cases than usual in multiple settings including workplaces and schools,” said Dr. Yves Léger, medical officer of health for the east region. “Public Health is monitoring the situation closely and working with health-care professionals and the public to decrease the risk.”

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

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

While anyone can contract the disease, 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.

Whooping cough is diagnosed based on symptoms and laboratory tests and is treated with an antibiotic. Treatment can reduce the spread of infection and duration of illness if given early.

Individuals exhibiting symptoms of whooping cough are encouraged to contact their health-care provider. It is also important to keep people with coughs and colds away from babies and young children.

More information about whooping cough is available on the Department of Health website.