Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut December 12, 2016 - 1:10 pm

Whooping cough hits two more Nunavut communities

Health department adds Baker Lake and Rankin Inlet to its list of sick communities

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
Nunavut's health minister George Hickes gets his flu shot in Iqaluit last month. The territorial health department plans to immunize all students from Grade 6 to Grade 9 against whooping cough by the end of the year. (FILE PHOTO)
Nunavut's health minister George Hickes gets his flu shot in Iqaluit last month. The territorial health department plans to immunize all students from Grade 6 to Grade 9 against whooping cough by the end of the year. (FILE PHOTO)

Whooping cough continues to spread in Nunavut, this time to two large communities in the Kivalliq region.

Nunavut’s Department of Health said Dec. 9 it’s confirmed cases of whooping cough (pertussis) in Baker Lake and Rankin Inlet, which have a combined population of about 5,000.

Since the respiratory infection was first detected in Pond Inlet last March, whooping cough has spread to Hall Beach, Igloolik, Cape Dorset, Iqaluit, Pangnirtung and most recently to the Kivalliq region.

At the last tally shared, Nunavut’s health department said it had recorded more than 120 cases of the infection territory-wide.

Whooping cough, or 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.

The Government of Nunavut has encouraged residents to get vaccinated against the infection. As well, vaccination during pregnancy can help protect the unborn child.

Nunavut’s health department said last month that it’s “committed to preventing further spread to other communities.”

To do that, the GN has moved the scheduled immunization, called Tdap, to Grade 6.

Health officials are in the process of immunizing all Nunavut students in Grade 6 to Grade 9 before the end of the year.

Once a person contracts whooping cough, early diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics are important, the GN said.

Nunavummiut should visit their local health care centre if they have the following symptoms:

• a cough followed by a sharp inhalation or a whoop sound;

•  vomiting after coughing; and,

• cough that is worse at night.

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