Nunavut’s Health Department warns of stomach illness spreading in Kivalliq

“No pathogen has yet been identified”


The stomach illness that first made its way around Baker Lake has now spread to other communities in Nunavut's Kivalliq region. (FILE PHOTO)

The stomach illness that first made its way around Baker Lake has now spread to other communities in Nunavut’s Kivalliq region. (FILE PHOTO)

An unidentified stomach illness currently circulating in Nunavut’s Kivalliq region is now affecting many people, with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, high temperatures and diarrhea.

Its spread prompted a recent advisory from the Nunavut Health Department, which had earlier sent out a precautionary advisory about the stomach illness, then mainly present in Baker Lake.

The Health Department could not confirm how many residents of the Kivalliq region are now affected, but in Baker Lake, the stomach illness has been making the rounds for more than a week.

This meant the health centre in Baker Lake had to reduce operations in the community of about 2,000, while waiting for additional nursing staff to arrive.

“Some health centres are open to emergencies only due to the number of patients presenting with symptoms,” Dr. Kim Barker, the Government of Nunavut’s chief medical officer, told Nunatsiaq News on Thursday, after the Health Department sent out another public service announcement on the spread of the illness earlier this week.

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It remains unclear what the specific illness is, but Barker said that “we have sent several stool samples for testing.”

“No pathogen has yet been identified,” she said.

While not uncommon at this time of year, this illness can spread quickly and easily from person to person, the GN said, and anyone who is vomiting and has diarrhea should not make meals for the family, to reduce the risk of spreading the sickness to family members.

To prevent catching or spreading the illness, the GN suggests:

• Washing your hands often.

• Coughing and sneezing into your sleeve.

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• Washing your hands after changing a baby’s diaper.

• Keeping countertops and doorknobs clean by using hot water and soap.

If you have any symptoms of the stomach illness, you should stay home, rest and drink plenty of fluids.

And if your symptoms last longer than 48 hours, you should call the health centre for advice.

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