It seems  we've started off the New Year by getting sick and visiting emergency rooms.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority says emergency room visits and hospital admissions are way up since January 1. 

Over the past two weeks, there have been about 100 more daily visits to winnipeg emergency rooms than average. The majority of people are suffering from viral respiratory illnesses. The WRHA says it is still waiting on test results to confirm whether the recent wave of illnesses is flu-related.

Meanwhile, health officials are keeping a close eye on a whooping cough outbreak in southern Manitoba. 

Dr. Michael Routledge, the Chief Medical Officer of Health with Southern Health-Sante Sud, says the average amount of cases in recent years has been between zero and five per year. In the last month or so, there are 10 in the Steinbach area. Routledge says in 2016, there were 21 cases of whooping cough reported.

"Those cases, particularly the ones in December, were all amongst children in the first year, infants," Routledge says. "That's where we get particularly concerned because young infants are the ones who can get quite sick with this."

Whooping cough is a bacterial infection that predominantly affects the chest, resulting in respiratory and coughing symptoms. It is highly contagious, and for young children, especially those under a year old, can be fatal. 

Routledge says it can be treated with antibiotics, but is also entirely preventable.

"It's important for people to understand that we are seeing an increase in cases. The most important thing I would say is that, anyone who hasn't been immunized for pertussis and for whooping cough, now would be a really good time to think about that because it really is a safe, effective vaccine that does work."

— with files from