Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Outbreak in Fort Simpson and Jean Marie River

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Seven confirmed cases in two communities


NORTHWEST TERRITORIES - (January 13, 2021) – An outbreak of pertussis (whooping cough) has been declared in the Dehcho region by the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer today.

There are seven confirmed cases in total in Jean Marie River and Fort Simpson.

Residents in Jean Marie River and Fort Simpson should confirm their Pertussis vaccination as soon as possible by contacting their Health Centre.

This Advisory includes the 4 cases noted in the January 4th Public Health Advisory.

Pertussis is a vaccine-preventable disease that affects the lungs and respiratory tract and is particularly dangerous to infants who are less than one year of age.

Residents can protect themselves and their loved ones from pertussis by getting vaccinated. The pertussis-containing vaccine is safe and effective, although 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 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.

The first symptoms of pertussis are mild and usually appear 7-10 days after exposure, but may take up to 21 days to develop:

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

About 10 days after the initial symptoms, 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.

Antibiotics reduce the infectiousness of pertussis although the symptoms may persist for even months.

If you think you may have been exposed to someone with pertussis or have a cough concerning for pertussis, you should call the health centre or 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 until you complete antibiotics.

Relevant links

If you are not sure if you or your child is immunized, book an appointment with your public health unit or local community health centre.


Media Contact

For more information contact:

Damien Healy
Manager Communications
Health and Social Services
(867) 767-9052 ext. 49034