Public Health confirms case of whooping cough at Fredericton school

New Brunswick health officials say a case of whooping cough has been confirmed at a Fredericton middle school.

Dr. Isaac Sobol, regional medical officer of health for the Saint John region, told our newsroom Saturday that someone at Devon Middle School recently contracted the disease.

Sobol would not disclose whether the individual is a student or staff member due to privacy reasons.

He said a letter has been distributed to the school community informing them about the case, how whooping cough is spread, and what to do if they think they may have it.

In an email distributed by the school to parents, Public Health says that whooping cough spreads between people by droplets from coughs and sneezes.

While the disease can be as minor as a dry, nagging cough in adults, it can be life-threatening in babies and young children.

Sobol said there have been 16 cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, so far this year in the province, which appears to be on par with previous years.

He said there were 66 cases in 2016, 79 cases in 2015, 50 cases in 2014, 74 cases in 2013, 60 cases in 2012, 80 cases in 2011 and 81 cases in 2010.

Sobol said the best way to keep the disease at bay is to ensure your immunizations are up to date.

The vaccine is offered at no charge at 2, 4, 6 and 18 months of age, at age four, and as part of the school program in Grade 7.

Sobol said adults should also receive a pertussis booster vaccination every ten years.

He said it's also important to wash your hands frequently and to stay home from school or work when you're sick.

You can learn more about whooping cough on the Public Health website.