Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut May 16, 2016 - 5:05 pm

Nunavut community confirms cases of whooping cough

Health officials warn families to watch for highly-contagious infection

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
Government of Nunavut health officials say they've confirmed cases of whooping cough in the Baffin community of Pond Inlet. (FILE PHOTO)
Government of Nunavut health officials say they've confirmed cases of whooping cough in the Baffin community of Pond Inlet. (FILE PHOTO)

(Updated May 17 at 3:45 p.m.)

Health officials in Nunavut are warning parents to watch out for signs of whooping cough in young children, after cases of the respiratory infection were confirmed in Pond Inlet.

The Government of Nunavut’s health department said May 16 that four cases of whooping cough have been confirmed in the north Baffin community, while health care staff are working to confirm other suspected cases.

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

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

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,

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

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

As a precaution, the GN also said families with young children should encourage frequent hand-washing, coughing into a sleeve or tissues and to avoid sharing food and drinks.

In Canada, babies are routinely vaccinated against whooping cough, starting at two months of age. That means newborn babies can be at the greatest risk of contracting the disease.

Whooping cough can last for several weeks, and in rare cases, the infection can cause brain damage.

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