Whooping cough causes severe coughing that can last months and send a baby to hospital intensive care. (YouTube/Mayo Clinic/Oct. 7, 2013)

Fredericton declares a whooping cough outbreak

Public health officials in the eastern province of New Brunswick have declared an outbreak of pertussis, which is commonly known as whooping cough. Twelve cases were reported in the city of Fredericton in January, March and April 2019.

This bacterial infection causes a severe cough that can last for months and can be fatal for children under a year old.

Most, but not all, Canadian children get vaccinated against several diseases. The UN calls vaccine hesitancy a top threat to human health. (iStock)

Vaccination prevents pertussis

Pertussis can be prevented through vaccination which is free and is included in the routine vaccination schedule recommended for all children in Canada. While most Canadians have their children immunized there are some who do not. The UN’s World Health Organization has called the hesitation to vaccinate one of the world’s top ten threats to human health in 2019.

As it happens, the week of April 20 to 27, 2019 is National Immunization Awareness Week in Canada. On its website, the federal government notes that “over the past 50 years, vaccines have eliminated and controlled serious diseases that were once very common in Canada. Vaccines don’t just save the life of the person that has received the vaccine, but those around them as well. When a large number of people in our community are vaccinated, people who cannot receive the vaccine are also protected.” The government warns that while some diseases may not be prevalent in Canada, travellers can be infected while they are abroad and bring back diseases.

Western province campaigns to vaccinate against measles

A recent outbreak of measles in the western province of British Columbia prompted health authorities there to launch a campaign to ensure students’ vaccinations are up to date.

This whooping cough outbreak in Fredericton comes just months after another outbreak of whooping cough was declared at a high school in Moncton, just 177 km away.

A video from the Mayo Clinic illustrates what happens when a baby gets whooping cough.

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