New Brunswick has declared a whooping cough outbreak at Moncton High School after at least five cases of the highly contagious disease were diagnosed at the school.
“Recognizing that this is highly unusual and that there are likely many other undiagnosed cases in the school, I have officially declared a pertussis outbreak at your school,” wrote Dr. Yves A. Léger, the Medical Officer of Health in the province’s east region, in a letter sent to parents on Sunday.
Pertussis, or Whooping cough, causes a severe cough that can last for months. For infants under the age of one, it can be deadly.
Leger is recommending that if a parent or their child has a cough that they see a health-care provider as soon as possible.
“Do not assume that it is merely a cold or the flu,” Leger writes in the letter.
“A simple test can be done to confirm if you have pertussis or not.”
He recommends wearing a mask when arriving at the clinic and avoiding infants and pregnant women.
Léger says that guardians should mention they are from the Moncton High School community and there have been many cases of whooping cough.
It is also recommended that guardians should verify their child’s immunization records.
In addition to routine childhood vaccines, an adolescent booster dose of the whooping cough vaccine is required and provided through the province’s immunization clinics in Grade 7.
Léger says that an adult booster dose at age 18 or later is also required.
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According to the region’s immunization program statistics, Léger says up to 30 per cent of students have not received their adolescent booster dose.
In an effort to change that, Léger says that the province will be holding an immunization clinic at the school on March 20. In the case of a school closure, the clinic will be held on March 21.
Permission forms are set to be distributed after the March break.
The Medical Officer of Health says that if guardians are unsure whether their child has received their adolescent does that they should contact their usual provider or reach out to the local public health officer at 506-836-3502 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.