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Iqaluit whooping cough cases now up to 29

The Government of Nunavut says there are now 29 confirmed cases of whooping cough in Iqaluit, and the number may be on the rise across the territory.

22 confirmed cases in Hall Beach, Nunavut

The Government of Nunavut says there are now 29 confirmed cases of whooping cough in Iqaluit and 22 cases in Hall Beach, and the number may be on the rise across the territory.

Half of the new confirmed cases are among children, and the Department of Health is urging pregnant women in their third trimester to get vaccinated.

Kim Barker, Nunavut's Chief Medical Officer of Health is advising pregnant women in their third trimester to get vaccinated for whooping cough, after 29 more cases have been confirmed in Iqaluit. (Sima Sahar Zerehi/CBC)

"When you immunize a pregnant woman, she passes on the antibodies to the unborn baby," said Dr. Kim Barker, Nunavut's Chief Medical Officer of Health.

"Infants, when they're born, they have very small airways. So anything that might plug their airways can make it very difficult for them to breathe and they can become quite unwell with lots of severe respiratory illness."

Some of the latest confirmed cases trace back to the two from last month in an Iqaluit middle school classroom. Parents with children in the class were sent letters but since the school year had ended, department officials took the extra step of driving around town and hand-delivering advisory letters to households.

Barker also confirmed there are more suspected cases across the territory.

Whooping cough, also called pertussis, is a contagious infection of the throat and lungs.

The Department of Health is asking parents to bring their children to the local health centre if they show symptoms of:

  • a cough, followed by an unusual sound that sounds like "whoop"
  • vomiting or not breathing after coughing
  • a high fever

Nunavummiut are also being reminded to wash their hands frequently, cough or sneeze into a tissue or one's sleeve, and not to share food, drinks, utensils or toothbrushes.

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