Parents at Macaulay Elementary School in Esquimalt are being warned of a probable case of pertussis – or whooping cough – found at the school.

In a letter sent to parents from the school, families are being asked to watch for symptoms of the illness, which can be serious for infants and pregnant mothers. 

While pertussis generally begins with regular cold-like symptoms, the illness may progress to a severe cough with a distinctive 'whooping' sound, which may also be followed by gagging or vomiting. These symptoms can last for several weeks. 

Anyone who develops these symptoms should contact their health-care provider for a pertussis bacteria test.

If someone is diagnosed with the illness, antibiotics will be required. After five days of treatment, people will no longer be considered infectious and are allowed to return to school or work. 

Macaulay Elementary School is also encouraging families to review their children's vaccination records and to keep all immunizations up to date. Immunization records can be reviewed at any public health unit or some doctors' office.