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Whooping cough hits the Tlicho Region

The Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) is advising residents of the Tlicho region of localized pertussis activity.

Pertussis is a vaccine-preventable disease also known as whooping cough. It is a contagious (easily spread) 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.

As of December 13, 2019 there have been 8 lab-confirmed cases of pertussis in the Tlicho Region.

The localized pertussis activity is being controlled, with no hospitalizations. All confirmed cases have been isolated and treated.

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Residents can protect themselves and their loved ones from pertussis by getting vaccinated. The pertussis-containing vaccine is safe and effective. 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 27-28 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 and is part of the routine NWT Immunization Schedule.

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,
  • ┬ásneezing 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 notify your health care provider as soon as possible. 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.

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