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Pertussis activity confirmed in Fort Simpson: CPHO

Dr. Kami Kandola, Chief Public Health Officer announces during a press conference on June 12 the start of Phase 2 of the Covid recovery plan. screengrab image

Four people in Fort Simpson were diagnosed with pertussis (whooping cough) in recent days.

A laboratory test confirmed pertussis in at least one individual in the cluster of four.

Pertussis is a vaccine-preventable, contagious disease of the lungs and airways caused by a bacteria.

Pertussis activity was confirmed on Jan. 4 by the chief public health officer in Fort Simpson. Pixabay photo
Pertussis activity was confirmed on Jan. 4 by the chief public health officer in Fort Simpson. Pixabay photo

It can infect anyone at any age but is most dangerous for infants and children under 1 year of age.

The first symptoms of the illness are mild and usually appear seven to 10 days after exposure, but can take up to 21 days to develop. Symptoms include mild fever, runny nose, sneezing,  mild cough and red, watery eyes.

About 10 days after the initial symptoms, the cough worsens and leads to severe, repeated and forceful coughing spells that end with a whooping sound before the next breath.

The cough tends to be worse at night and may result in vomiting and difficulty breathing. Babies and small children may turn blue.

Residents can protect themselves by getting vaccinated. The pertussis-containing vaccine is safe and effective, although immunity from the vaccine can fade over time.

An adolescent booster dose is offered in Grade 7 and every 10 years as an adult. Pregnant women should get a pertussis-containing vaccine between 27 to 32 weeks of their pregnancy, regardless of their last dose. This booster in pregnancy protects the newborn by protecting their mother in pregnancy.

The vaccine is free of charge and is part of the routine NWT Immunization Schedule.

Antibiotics can reduce the infectiousness of pertussis but the symptoms might still persist for months.

Residents who suspect they have been exposed to someone with pertussis or have a cough resembling that of pertussis should call their health care provider as soon as possible.

People infected with pertussis should stay at home and away from infants, young children, women in their last three months of pregnancy, and large public gatherings until antibiotics are completed.