Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut May 30, 2016 - 4:00 pm

Confirmed whooping cough cases down to five: GN

Two other cases of the infection are pending; one of them in Iqaluit

SARAH ROGERS
Whooping cough can be spread to anyone, but the most severe cases of the infection are seen in children under the age of one. (IMAGE COURTESY OF WEBMD)
Whooping cough can be spread to anyone, but the most severe cases of the infection are seen in children under the age of one. (IMAGE COURTESY OF WEBMD)

Health officials in Nunavut say a number of suspected cases of whooping cough in the north Baffin community of Pond Inlet have come back negative.

Last week, health care staff were looking at as many as 18 possible cases of the bacterial infection in the community of 1,500.

But as of May 30, officials with Government of Nunavut’s health department say there are five confirmed cases and one “probable” case.

But the infection may have spread to another community. Two possible cases in Iqaluit were being tested last week; one has come back negative, but the results of the second case are “pending,” the GN said.

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a highly-contagious bacterial infection marked by a cough, followed by high-pitched inhalation.

You can hear an example of what whooping cough sounds like here.

Whooping cough can be spread to anyone but the most severe cases of the infection are seen in children under the age of one.

The infection can last for several weeks and in rare cases, it can cause brain damage.

Early diagnosis and treatment are important, the GN said in a release, encouraging families to go to their local health centre if they notice the following symptoms:

•  a cough followed by a sharp inhalation that can sound like “whoop;”

•  trouble breathing;

•  vomiting after coughing;

•  coughing that becomes worse at nighttime; and,

•  a high fever (more than 39 C) that lasts more than three days.

Families who have any members with the above symptoms are also recommended to stay home until the symptoms pass to avoid the spread of illness, the GN said.

Nunavut health officials recommend that pregnant mothers get vaccinated against whooping cough to protect their babies against the infection.

Nunavummiut can also come to their local health centre to receive a booster shot to protect against the infection if they haven’t been immunized.

As another precaution, the GN also suggests that families with young children encourage frequent hand-washing, coughing into a sleeve or tissues and avoiding sharing food and drinks.

Dr. Kim Barker, Nunavut’s chief medical officer, said the health department has been in touch with other health centres across the territory, so staff know to look for symptoms of whooping cough.

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