The Department of Health has declared an outbreak of whooping cough in Sanikiluaq, Nunavut’s southernmost community. Presently there are less than five cases of whooping cough in the community of nearly 900 people.

Chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson explained, since “there’s more cases and we’re aware of transmission between some of them,” it is now considered an outbreak.

During the May 28 press conference, Patterson revealed there was only a single case of whooping cough. Due to its detection, the doctor announced the daycare in Sanikiluaq would remain closed.

“Anyone can get whooping cough but the most severe cases are in young children. For that reason, the daycare in Sanikiluaq will remain closed for the time being,” explained Patterson.

As of June 1, daycares in the territory are permitted to reopen after being closed since March due to Covid-19.

In a June 8 news release, the Department of Health clarified the most severe cases of whooping cough are in children under the age of one.

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a disease of the throat and lungs that is spread very easily from person to person, said the chief public health officer.

“If you or your child are mildly ill, stay home and avoid contact with others until your symptoms are gone. This will prevent the spread of illness,” read the news release from the Department of Health.

The Department of Health advises Nunavummiut to call the local health centre if anyone in the household exhibits the following symptoms: a cough lasting 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 and lastly a high fever (39°C and above) that stays for more than three days.

Health officials also encourage frequent hand washing, coughing into your sleeve or tissue and not sharing food, drinks, utensils or toothbrushes.

Whooping cough can be prevented with a vaccine. People are advised to check their vaccines are up to date.

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