The Chief Public Officer has declared a pertussis (whooping cough) outbreak in the Yellowknife and the Tłı̨chǫ regions. As of January 15th, there have been 20 lab-confirmed cases of pertussis in these regions, up from eight a month ago.

Whooping cough is a vaccine-preventable disease that can infect anyone at any age but is most dangerous for infants and children under 1 year of age. It is a contagious infection of the lungs and airways caused by a bacteria that is found in the mouth, nose and throat. 

Residents can protect themselves from pertussis by getting vaccinated. The pertussis-containing vaccine is free of charge and is part of the routine NWT Immunization Schedule.

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 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 first symptoms of pertussis are mild and usually appear 7-10 days after exposure, but may take up to 28 days to develop. They include:

  • mild fever,
  • runny nose,
  • red, watery eyes,
  • sneezing, and
  • mild cough.

If you think you may have been exposed to someone with pertussis or have a cough longer than a week you should call your healthcare provider as soon as possible. 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.