Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut October 18, 2016 - 2:30 pm

Whooping cough “serious and active health concern” in Nunavut

With a “whoop" or a funny sounding cough, head to your health centre

Nunavut health officials are now calling whooping cough “a serious and active health concern
Nunavut health officials are now calling whooping cough “a serious and active health concern" as the viral infection has spread throughout the territory. (FILE IMAGE)

The territory’s whooping cough, outbreak, first detected about five months ago, has now spread throughout Nunavut and is now officially “a serious and active health concern.”

The Government of Nunavut’s health department sent out a news release Oct. 17 encouraging people to contact their doctors and get a vaccination against the highly contagious respiratory disease.

The release also said that pregnant women in their final three months of pregnancy, and their families, should get vaccinated to protect unborn children from infection.

The health department is advising parents of children or youth, or any adult who has symptoms of pertussis, or whooping cough, to visit the hospital in Iqaluit or a community health centre.

The disease emerged first in Pond Inlet this past May, and then appeared in Hall Beach and Iqaluit.

Now the GN has confirmed 107 cases in those communities as well as in Igloolik, Cape Dorset and Naujaat.

Symptoms include:

• a cough followed by an rapid air intake which resembles a “whoop,” or a funny sounding cough; and,

• vomiting after coughing or not being able to breath after coughing.

Whooping cough is a disease of the lungs and throat caused by bacteria. Symptoms usually emerge seven to 10 days after a person has been exposed to the disease and can last six to 10 weeks.

Nunavut, with help from Health Canada, stepped up efforts to vaccinate Nunavummiut at the end of summer after the recent outbreak showed no signs of slowing.

This summer, the GN health estimated there were more than 70 probably or confirmed cases in the Baffin region but according to this most recent release, the disease has now spread to Nunavut’s other two regions.

Certain measures help to prevent passing on the disease to others: frequent hand-washing, coughing into your sleeve or tissue, not sharing food, drinks, utensils or toothbrushes.

Various antibiotics can be used to treat whooping cough but early diagnosis is important. Talk to your doctor for diagnosis and proper treatment.

Family members of those who have pertussis sometimes have to take antibiotics as well, so you should talk to your doctor about this.

The numbers of whooping cough cases in Nunavut have been increasing.

Refer to this GN fact sheet for more information.

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