FREDERICTON (GNB) – Reported cases of whooping cough (pertussis) in New Brunswick have doubled in the last month, according to the province's chief medical officer of health.

"We are still experiencing a significant whooping cough outbreak in New Brunswick," said Dr. Eilish Cleary. "To date, there has been a total of 100 reported cases, an increase of 53 cases since the outbreak was announced at the end of February, mainly in the southern and eastern areas of the province. Public Health officials are monitoring the situation closely to ensure that appropriate interventions are in place."

Most cases are occurring in children 10 to 14 years of age, those who are five to nine and children younger than one.

Whooping cough is a disease of the lining of the respiratory tract caused by the Bordetella Pertussis bacterium. It begins with cold-like symptoms, including sneezing, runny nose, low-grade fever and mild cough. It worsens during 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.

Immunization offers the best protection against the disease. The routine immunization schedule in New Brunswick recommends that children be immunized against whooping cough at two, four, six and 18 months; between the ages of four and six; one dose during adolescence; and one booster as an adult.

Those who have not been vaccinated during the last five years and are in close, regular contact with children younger than one are encouraged to contact their usual immunization provider and arrange for the vaccine to be administered.

Basic hygiene measures such as regular hand-washing, disposing of tissues properly and containing coughs and sneezes help control the spread of whooping cough.

Individuals who think they or their family members might have whooping cough are encouraged to contact their health-care provider. Those being treated for whooping cough are advised to avoid contact with those who may be at higher risk, particularly children younger than one and pregnant women in their third trimester, until they have taken the medication for five days.

More information about whooping cough is on the Department of Health website. Alternatively, you may contact your local Public Health office or Telecare.

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