Faced with whooping cough case, Nunavut issues public health advisory for Sanikiluaq
“We do not think this represents a risk or a threat to any other communities in Nunavut”
Due to a case of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, daycares in Sanikiluaq will remain closed “for the time being,” Nunavut’s chief public health officer said today.
The public health advisory is intended to prevent the spread of this highly contagious infection within the Hudson Bay community of about 900, Dr. Michael Patterson said during the Government of Nunavut’s update on COVID-19 on Thursday, May 28.
But “we do not think this represents a risk or a threat to any other communities in Nunavut,” Patterson said.
Whooping cough can be spread easily from person to person, he said.
“Anyone can get whooping cough, but the most severe cases are in young children,” said Patterson.
“For that reason, the daycare in Sanikiluaq will remain closed for the time being.”
Normally the GN would not take this action, but the decision was based on the possible risk of infection, he said.
Daycares in Nunavut are slated to reopen on June 1 as part of the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in the territory.
“If we open up the daycares and there is transmission of pertussis in Sanikiluaq, then we have exposed children to an increased risk of transmission and acquisition of pertussis,” said Patterson.
For children in daycares, Patterson said pertussis is “far more dangerous than COVID,” so “that’s the rationale for doing it the way we did.”
As well, he recommended that everyone in Sanikiluaq continue social distancing, as they have been doing for COVID-19, “at least until we know if there are any other cases in Sanikiluaq.”
Whooping cough is caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis, which can cause uncontrollable, violent coughing that often makes it hard to breathe.
Nunavut has been hit by several outbreaks of whooping cough in recent years, with the most recent big outbreak taking place in 2017.
Every year in Canada, there are one to three deaths due to whooping cough, mostly in babies under the age of three months who have not been immunized, according to Health Canada.
Vaccinations and antibiotics can work to fight the spread of the whooping cough infection.
You can learn more about whooping cough by reading the pertussis fact sheet available on the Department of Health’s website.