The Chief Public Officer of the Northwest Territories has declared a pertussis or whooping cough outbreak in the Yellowknife and the Tlicho regions.
Pertussis is a vaccine-preventable disease, according to a news release from the NWT Department of Health.
It is a contagious infection of the lungs and airways caused by a bacteria that is found in the mouth, nose and throat.
Pertussis can infect anyone at any age but is most dangerous for infants and children under 1 year of age.
Dr. Kami Kandola states in a news release that as of Tuesday there have been 20 lab-confirmed cases of pertussis in these regions.
“Residents can protect themselves and their loved ones from pertussis by getting vaccinated,” the release states.
Since the immunity from the pertussis vaccine may 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 27-32 weeks of their pregnancy, regardless of their last dose.
This will help prevent spreading pertussis to their baby once the baby is born.
The vaccine is free of charge.
The first symptoms of pertussis are mild and usually appear 7-10 days after exposure, but may take up to 28 days to develop: mild fever, runny nose, red, watery eyes, sneezing, and mild cough.
10-14 days later, the cough becomes worse, leading 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.
“If you think you may have been exposed to someone with pertussis or have a cough longer than a week you should call your health care provider as soon as possible,” states the release. “If you have pertussis, it is important to stay at home and away from infants, young children, women in their last 3 months of pregnancy, and large public gatherings.”