Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Outbreak in Yellowknife and Tłı̨chǫ Region

News Type: 

YELLOWKNIFE 15 January 2020 - The Chief Public Health Officer has declared a pertussis outbreak in the Yellowknife and the Tłı̨chǫ regions.

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 January 15, 2020, 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 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 27-32 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 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,
  • 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.

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.

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.

Anyone in Yellowknife who has been in contact with someone who has been confirmed to have pertussis should contact public health at 767-9120  if they have symptoms or are unsure about their vaccination status.

More information:

For more information contact:

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