A whooping cough outbreak in New Brunswick's Moncton area has doctors concerned for the health of infants and young children in the region, as the often persistent, severe cough can be fatal.

The province has been tracking whooping cough reports in the area since August. So far, Public Health says there are 30 confirmed cases, including two at the Universite de Moncton. The campus community at the East Coast school has since been notified.

"Cases were spreading out within the region, which at that point is when I decided to declare it an outbreak," N.B.'s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Yves Leger told CTV Atlantic on Thursday.

While anybody can get whooping cough, doctors are most worried about the very young.

"Public Health is offering to immunize those with higher risks, so pregnant women who are in the third trimester or anyone in very close contact with newborns," Leger said.

In New Brunswick, the whooping cough vaccine is given at two, four, six, and 18 months of age.

For newborns, full protection against the easily contagious infection takes time.

Whooping cough can be transmitted person-to-person through droplets from the nose, mouth, and throat of an infected person. It typically begins with cold-like symptoms and a mild cough, which can worsen over several weeks to include violent coughing spells.

For parents like Katie Drysdale, who has young children, the outbreak is a cause for concern.

"(I feel) a little helpless in a way because as a parent, you try to keep your kids from getting sick," she said.

Adults in the Moncton area are also being urged to check with their doctors to see if they may require a booster shot, as protection tends to wane with time.

This is not the first time New Brunswick has seen a whooping cough outbreak. In 2012, there were about 1,400 reports of whooping cough.

According to N.B.'s medical officer of health, whooping cough cases tend to jump every three to five years. Leger said for those who want to get a vaccine, they should ask their family doctor. He adds there's no issue with getting a whooping cough shot and a flu shot at the same time.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Nick Moore