A whooping cough outbreak has been declared in the NWT’s Dehcho region after seven cases of the infection were confirmed in Jean Marie River and Fort Simpson.
The chief public health officer encouraged residents to get vaccinated against the contagious lung infection last week, when a four-case “cluster” was first identified in Fort Simpson.
The territory reiterated that call on Wednesday as it declared an outbreak, saying all residents in both affected communities should confirm their vaccination as soon as possible by contacting their local health centre.
Whooping cough, also called pertussis, can be particularly dangerous to infants and young children.
Mild symptoms – like a mild fever and cough, runny nose, and red watery eyes – typically begin around a week after exposure. Ten days after symptoms start, the cough worsens and leads to “severe, repeated and forceful coughing spells that end with a whooping sound before the next breath,” said the territory.
“The cough tends to be worse at night and may result in vomiting and difficulty breathing. Babies and small children may turn blue,” the NWT government’s advisory stated.
People with whooping cough must remain at home until a course of antibiotics has been completed.
Residents can make an appointment with their local health centre to receive the free vaccine. People are typically vaccinated as children, in their teens, and then every 10 years as adults with a booster dose.