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Update on Whooping Cough Outbreak in the Eastern Zones 

News ReleasesProvincial
Posted: July 4, 2024

Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) Health Services is providing an update on the outbreak of whooping cough (pertussis) in the eastern zones of the province.    

As of July 3, 2024, there have been 151 cases of whooping cough reported throughout the Eastern Urban and Rural Zones of NL Health Services. Currently, over half of these cases are among children between the ages of 10 and 14 years old, with the age of affected individuals ranging from one month to 89 years.   

“While cases of whooping cough can be mild, it is important to recognize the risk posed to vulnerable populations, especially infants and individuals who are pregnant in the third trimester. Therefore, it is particularly important to control the spread of whooping cough to prevent severe illness among infants,” said Dr. Nazlee Ogunyemi, Medical Officer of Health with NL Health Services. “The more whooping cough circulates, the greater the likelihood that an at-risk child will be exposed to the bacteria. It is important to follow public health recommendations on isolation, testing, and prevention measures to lessen the chance of negative outcomes.”

NL Health Services is launching a social media campaign to encourage individuals, especially those who will be around a new baby, to get vaccinated against whooping cough. The #LoveandProtection campaign aims to protect vulnerable infants from the highly contagious disease by raising awareness about the importance of immunization for caregivers and family members. The campaign will be featured on NL Health Services’ social media platforms.  

WHOOPING COUGH VACCINATIONS   

Vaccinations that protect against whooping cough are part of Newfoundland and Labrador’s recommended routine childhood immunization schedule and school immunization schedules. A booster dose of the vaccine (Tdap) is also recommended once in adulthood, and for pregnant people during each pregnancy in the third trimester, ideally in weeks 27-32 of the pregnancy. Infants under one year of age are among the most vulnerable groups, facing serious complications from whooping cough infection. NL Health Services strongly encourages individuals to update their Tdap vaccine at least two weeks before meeting or caring for a baby. Vaccinating pregnant individuals, parents, siblings, grandparents, and friends protects the baby until they are old enough to complete their own vaccinations.     

If you are unsure if you are up to date with whooping cough vaccine or need to arrange immunization, individuals in the Eastern-Urban Zone should call 1-877-752-8171. Individuals in Eastern-Rural Zone should contact your local public health nursing office. Individuals in the Central, Labrador-Grenfell and Western Zones who have questions about whooping cough booster/Tdap vaccine availability are asked to call their local public health clinic/community health office. Contact information for local public health clinics/community health offices can be found on your zone’s website: Central, Labrador-Grenfell and Western.   

For more information on how to get vaccinated, please visit our Whooping Cough (Pertussis) webpage 

PREVENTION AND CONTROL

NL Health Services’ Eastern-Urban Zone is offering whooping cough testing to individuals who are experiencing symptoms of whooping cough AND have been in contact with someone who has whooping cough OR have infants under one year of age in their lives. Testing will be by appointment only. Appointments can be made by calling 709-752-7852 or texting 1-877-709-0512. Other individuals including those outside of the Eastern-Urban Zone who are experiencing symptoms of whooping cough should contact their primary care provider or 811 as soon as possible. Individuals diagnosed with whooping cough should not return to school or work and should avoid public gatherings, infants, and pregnant individuals for five days after the start of appropriate antibiotic treatment.    

We strongly advise individuals to stay home when they are sick to prevent the spread of whooping cough and other infectious diseases, thereby protecting our community’s most at-risk members. Community residents are reminded to protect themselves and their families by practicing good health habits: cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your arm, regularly clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer, and wear a mask when you’re sick to minimize the spread of germs. For more information on prevention and control, please visit the Hi Website.  

GENERAL INFORMATION    

For more information about whooping cough, talk to your health-care provider, a public health nurse or visit the Hi website.  

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About NL Health Services 

Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) Health Services brings together five former separate health entities – Eastern Health, Central Health, Western Health, Labrador-Grenfell Health, and the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information. The creation of a provincial health authority was announced following recommendations from Health Accord NL.    

NL Health Services is responsible for delivering health and community services to more than 528,000 people living in Newfoundland and Labrador and employs over 22,000 people.

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