An outbreak of pertussis has occurred in the Tlicho region.

Eight lab-confirmed cases of pertussis – also known as whooping cough – have been confirmed as of Dec. 13, according to the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer.

The localized cases are under control and there have been no hospitalizations. All the cases have been treated.

Pertussis is a vaccine preventable disease that is contagious infection of the lungs and airways caused by a bacteria in the mouth, nose and throat.

The disease can infect people of all ages but infants and children under one year of age are at the highest risk.

Residents are encouraged to get vaccinated against pertussis. It is free and part of the routine NWT immunization schedule. It is safe and effective but its immunity might fade over time. Adolescents can receive a booster dose in Grade 7 and adults are advised to receive a boosting every 10 years.

Pregnant women should receive a pertussis vaccine between 27-28 weeks of their pregnancy to help prevent spreading the disease to their baby.

Symptoms of pertussis are mild and include fever, runny nose, watery eyes and a mild cough. The symptoms often appear seven to 10 days after exposure but might take as long as 28 to develop.

Ten to 14 days later the cough worsens to become repetitive and forceful, with a whooping sound before the next breath. The cough is often worse at night and can lead to vomiting and difficulty breathing.

If residents think they might have been exposed to someone with pertussis or have a cough lingering for longer than a week they should visit their health care provider.

Pertussis sufferers should stay at home and away from infants and young children, women in their last three months of pregnancy and large public gatherings.

Blair McBride

Blair McBride covers the Legislative Assembly, business and education. Before coming to Yellowknife he worked as a journalist in British Columbia, Thailand and Ontario. He studied journalism at Western...

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