Case of whooping cough in Iqaluit confirmed by Nunavut Health Department

Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief medical officer of health, says one case of whooping cough has been confirmed in Iqaluit. (CBC)

A case of whooping cough in Iqaluit was confirmed by the Nunavut Health Department last week. 

The virus, also called pertussis, is very contagious, so Nunavut’s chief medical officer of health Michael Patterson recommends immuno-compromised individuals and parents of young children take precautions. 

“Lots of handwashing, if the child is sick, keep them at home and try to isolate them from other individuals who are susceptible,” Patterson said. 

Symptoms to look out for include:

  • a cough that lasts longer than a week
  • a cough followed by an unusual sound that sounds like “whoop”
  • trouble breathing
  • vomiting after coughing
  • coughing that is worse at night
  • a high fever (39 C and above) that lasts more than three days

“Especially a young child, a child under a year of age, if they’re coughing for more than a day or two, and have a fever or any other concerning symptoms, [parents] should take them to the hospital to get checked out,” Patterson said. 

Those who get sick may have a cough that lasts up to three weeks and the young and those with compromised immune systems can get quite ill, even requiring time in an intensive care unit in Ottawa, Patterson said. 

Vaccine available 

Whooping cough is preventable with a vaccine. Iqaluit residents can go to public health to check their vaccines are up-to-date. 

Booster shots are needed for the virus every 10 years and will start protecting people from exposure to the virus starting a week or two after they receive the shot. 

Nunavut had outbreaks of the virus in 2016 and 2017. The last time Iqaluit had a case of whooping cough was in December 2016.

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