The province’s acting chief medical officer of health has confirmed there are currently 22 cases of whooping cough in New Brunswick – with the majority in the Fredericton area.
Dr. Jennifer Russell said there are 12 cases in the capital region, with two of the cases confirmed to be at Devon Middle School.
Anglophone West School District director of communications Jason Humphrey said on Thursday the central region medical officer of health declared an outbreak. He said some of the people who have contracted the disease are at Devon Middle School.
“What we’ve received for information from the medical officer of health is that there are some individuals in the central region, the Fredericton area… but we have been told there are some individuals at Devon Middle School with whooping cough.” Humphrey said.
He said school officials have been working with the public health officer since the first case was detected.
“Basically we will take the direction and guidance from public health officer. Right now it’s more of coordinating any clinics they might need to put on and as well as sharing information that’s important to the public that comes from public health,” Humphrey said,
An email was sent out to parents at the school confirm the outbreak Thursday and informing parents about a vaccination clinic April 27 for students who need booster shots.
“When the [regional] medical officer of health declared an outbreak, she meant in this region, so there’s 12 in this region, so once it got above 10 she was concerned it was an outbreak situation,” Russell said.
Russell said the 22 people affected are a wide array of ages. She said it’s important adults ensure their vaccinations are up-to-date as well to protect themselves and others and prevent the outbreak from spreading further.
Fredericton Junction resident Katelyn Graves said she’s concerned about taking her 10-month-old daughter Kamarie out to public events this weekend because of fear she could contract whooping cough.
“My baby’s not in school, but she’s also not able to be fully vaccinated. She’s only 10 months so she can’t be fully vaccinated herself to be protected until she’s 18 months,” Graves said. “It makes you feel a little helpless.”
Fredericton resident Brenda Craft-Breau has an 18 month old child and said although he’s vaccinated she said it’s worrisome.
“I think anything that has to do with your child, you worry,” Craft-Breau said. “Ya, it’s a little concerning.”
“We would like to see anybody who’s an adult who hasn’t had their adult booster to go ahead and get that because that will really really help with this outbreak,” Russell said.
Russell said in 2012 there were more than 1,000 cases. She said this outbreak doesn’t compare to 2012 and said public health staff are following protocols and processes to prevent further transmission of the disease.
“The people who have been diagnosed, their relatives and close contacts have been contacted, health care providers have been notified that they should be a higher lookout and be more vigilant on trying to diagnosis it and test for it,” Russell said.
She said the term “outbreak” isn’t meant to spark fear or panic amongst the general public and said those who are most at risk have already been informed and have been proactively given antibiotics.
Russell said the vaccine takes a while to work, but said right now getting it is the best defense to protect again the spread
“If you are an adult and you haven’t had your booster, go ahead and get that done,” Russell said.