Whooping cough outbreak reported in eastern Newfoundland

whooping cough (Winnipeg Health Region - image credit)
whooping cough (Winnipeg Health Region - image credit)
whooping cough
whooping cough

Forty-two cases of whooping cough have been reported in eastern Newfoundland since February, according to the provincial health authority. (Winnipeg Health Region)

Newfoundland and Labrador Health Services has confirmed an outbreak of whooping cough in eastern Newfoundland, with more than 40 cases reported in the area since February.

The health authority said most of the 42 cases of the highly contagious disease have been reported in schoolchildren.

The illness has also been seen in children as young as two months old and in seniors as old as 89.

The Department of Education told CBC News in a statement it knows of six cases of whooping cough spread across five schools in the province.

The province normally sees just three to four cases of the disease, also called pertussis, in a typical year.

In a subsequent release Thursday, the Department Health said 50 cases have been reported across the province so far this year.

The disease typically starts with cold-like symptoms, and is spread through close contact with an infected person through coughs and sneezes. Coughing can persist for up to eight weeks in some cases, and can lead to pneumonia, seizures and brain damage.

Babies less than one year old and pregnant women in their third trimester are considered at a higher risk for infection.

N.L. Health Services has opened an appointment-only testing clinic at 50 Mundy Pond Rd. in St. John's.

Testing will be available for individuals who are experiencing symptoms of whooping cough and those who have been in contact with confirmed cases. Appointments can be booked by calling 709-762-7852 or texting 1-877-709-0512.

Residents are asked to protect themselves by covering their coughs and sneezes, washing their hands regularly and staying home if feeling unwell.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald told CBC News in April that people should make sure they are up to date on their whooping cough vaccination.

The vaccine is part of the recommended routine childhood immunization schedule and school immunization schedule, but booster doses are recommended for adults and pregnant women.

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