The Northwest Territories’ chief public health officer says a whooping cough outbreak in Yellowknife and the territory’s Tłı̨chǫ region is now over.
According to a Tuesday afternoon news release, two full incubation periods have passed with no new cases for the first time since Dr Kami Kandola declared a pertussis outbreak on January 15.
Now, the NWT’s health department is encouraging residents to get vaccinated.
“Although this outbreak is over, we still have work to do,” the territory stated. “Residents can protect their loved ones from pertussis by getting vaccinated.”
Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a highly contagious bacterial infection that affects the lungs and airways. Its early symptoms are similar to those of a cold but, after 10 to 14 days, the cough becomes worse.
Those at highest risk of serious complications from pertussis are children under one year old and people with weakened immune systems. Women who contract pertussis in the third trimester of pregnancy also have an increased risk of passing it to their newborn babies.
There are two vaccines offered in the territory that protect against whooping cough, among other diseases and infections. They are free of charge and part of the routine immunization schedule.
The health department says pregnant women should get a pertussis-containing vaccine within 27 to 32 weeks of their pregnancy to prevent pertussis from spreading to their baby.
Immunity from pertussis-containing vaccines may fade over time, so an adolescent booster dose is offered in Grade 7 and every 10 years for adults.