55 confirmed cases of whooping cough since outbreak, says N.W.T. chief health officer

Dr. Kami Kandola says since the start of the outbreak, there have been 62 possible cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, in Yellowknife and the Tłı̨chǫ region.

Dr. Kami Kandola says peak for new cases has passed, but they're still being found

A file photo of a child coughing. Whooping cough is a contagious infection in the lungs caused by bacteria in the mouth, nose and throat. (Camelialy/Shutterstock)

The whooping cough outbreak in Yellowknife and the Tłı̨chǫ region of the Northwest Territories remains ongoing, despite a decline in new cases in the last month.

Dr. Kami Kandola, the Northwest Territories chief public health officer, says since the start of the outbreak, there have been 62 possible cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, in the designated areas. Fifty-five of those cases have been confirmed by medical authorities.

Kandola says the week of Jan. 12 included the most new cases of whooping cough at 12, but health authorities are still reporting positive cases. 

Whooping cough is a contagious infection in the lungs caused by bacteria in the mouth, nose and throat. Kandola says health care workers have given 800 doses of the pertussis-containing vaccine since the start of the outbreak.

Symptoms of whooping cough include:

  • a cough that lasts longer than a week
  • a cough followed by an unusual sound that sounds like "whoop"
  • trouble breathing
  • vomiting after coughing
  • coughing that is worse at night
  • a high fever (39 C and above) that lasts more than three days

Vaccine available 

Whooping cough is preventable with a vaccine, according to the N.W.T. Health Department. Residents can get the free vaccine from their health care provider.

The department says the whooping cough vaccine is safe and effective.

Dr. Kami Kandola, chief public health officer of the N.W.T., has provided an update on the whooping cough outbreak in the Yellowknife and Tłı̨chǫ regions declared in January. (Walter Strong/CBC)

Immunity may fade over time, so booster shots are offered every 10 years. Pregnant women should get an immunization between 27 and 28 weeks of pregnancy, regardless of when they last had a booster shot, says the advisory.

The Health Department said people who suspect they have whooping cough should notify their health care provider and stay at home.

In 2015, there were 21 confirmed cases of whooping cough in the Northwest Territories: including in the Tłı̨chǫ region, Hay River, Yellowknife and the Beaufort Delta region. At the time, the office of the chief public health officer said the majority of those cases were linked to travel outside the N.W.T.

With files from Katie Toth


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