29 cases of whooping cough already confirmed in greater Moncton area
The New Brunswick Office of Public Health has declared an outbreak of whooping cough in the Greater Moncton area. The provincial department has confirmed 29 cases as of Oct. 16, two of which have been connected with the Université de Moncton. After tracking the spread of the disease for eight months, Public Health confirmed the outbreak on Oct. 2.
Whooping cough is a contagious lung-and-throat disease which can last up to one or two months. The symptoms often begin with a mild cough and fever that can develop into severe coughing fits, which end with a “whooping” sound. The infection is often minor for adults, but can be life-threatening for infants and children.
Anyone who has comparable symptoms is advised to report directly to the hospital’s emergency room for a diagnosis. This is imperative for those working in close proximity to young children or pregnant women.
The Office of Public Health is advising residents to check their immunization records with their home family physician or a public-health office. They recommend any individual who did not receive the vaccine in the seventh grade or within the last six years to take a booster shot. Currently Public Health is offering a free booster dose of the Tdap vaccination which immunizes against the infection.
Cindy Crossman, registered nurse and educator at the Mount Allison Wellness Centre, said that although the New Brunswick population is regularly immunized against whooping cough, it is common to have an outbreak every three to five years.
“Most people have had their immunizations but they do wear down,” said Crossman. “That’s why we need our booster.”
She says secondary protection, such as your washing hands and coughing into your sleeve, is also crucial in preventing the spread of the disease. “This is important for us living on a university campus where everyone is in close proximity to one another.”
Residents who are interested in receiving the free booster dose should contact the N.B. Office of Public Health to find the closest vaccination location. The Tdap vaccination can also be purchased in pharmacies at one’s personal expense. Mt. A’s Wellness Centre has a limited number of available vaccinations.
The last outbreak of whooping cough occurred in 2012, when 1,421 cases were recorded in New Brunswick. The NB South East health region received 38 per cent of all the provincial cases, totaling over 500 cases within the year.