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”

Here’s a close-up look at the bacterium Bordetella pertussis, which causes whooping cough or pertussis. A case in Sanikiluaq has prompted the Nunavut government to keep the Hudson Bay community’s daycares closed. (Photo courtesy of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

By Jane George

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.

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(5) Comments:

  1. Posted by Ignorant people failing to vaccinate on

    This is completely preventable, but for some reason people can’t get their children vaccinated. Child services needs to swoop in since no one seems to be able to act like an adult. Unreal, but then again a classic Nunavut reality.

  2. Posted by Nunavumiu on

    Nunavut nurses never mention anything about vaccines until it’s too late.

  3. Posted by Sickly kids on

    I wonder if it could be caused by exposure to second hand smoke, marijuana, unsanitary environment, and unhealthy pregnancies.

    That’s when the government should take a good look and realize so many families are overcrowded; and start improving health care.

  4. Posted by Nunavut on

    Inuit are only given Tylenol for serious infections. I hope those who are infected with this, weren’t treated poorly.

  5. Posted by To Nunavut nurses on

    If there’s a vaccine for whooping cough, why aren’t nurses vaccinating? Why are they being quiet? They should go through local radio and reassure parents to have their children to be vaccinated.

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