Public Health: Pertussis Outbreak in Yellowknife

The following is a media advisory that was issued by the GNWT’s Department of Health and Social Services on January 15. Please read it in full as it contains important information about a pertussis (whooping cough) outbreak in the region.


The Chief Public Officer has declared a pertussis outbreak in the Yellowknife and the Tlicho regions. Pertussis is a vaccine-preventable disease also known as whooping cough. It is a contagious (easily spread) infection of the lungs and airways caused by a bacteria that is found in the mouth, nose and throat. Pertussis can infect anyone at any age but is most dangerous for infants and children under 1 year of ageAs of January 15, 2020, there have been 20 lab-confirmed cases of pertussis in these regions.

Residents can protect themselves and their loved ones from pertussis by getting vaccinated. The pertussis-containing vaccine is safe and effective. Since the immunity from the pertussis vaccine may fade over time, an adolescent booster dose is offered in grade 7 and every 10 years as an adult. Pregnant women should get a pertussis-containing vaccine between 27-32 weeks of their pregnancy, regardless of their last dose. This will help prevent spreading pertussis to their baby once the baby is born.

The vaccine is free of charge and is part of the routine NWT Immunization Schedule. The first symptoms of pertussis are mild and usually appear 7-10 days after exposure, but may take up to 28 days to develop: mild fever, runny nose, red and watery eyes, sneezing and mild cough.

10-14 days later, the cough becomes worse, leading to severe, repeated and forceful coughing spells that end with a whooping sound before the next breath. The cough tends to be worse at night and may result in vomiting and difficulty breathing. Babies and small children may turn blue. If you think you may have been exposed to someone with pertussis or have a cough longer than a week you should call your health care provider as soon as possible. If you have pertussis, it is important to stay at home and away from infants, young children, women in their last 3 months of pregnancy, and large public gatherings. If you are not sure if you or your child is immunized, book an appointment with your public health unit or local community health centre. Anyone in Yellowknife who has been in contact with someone who has been confirmed to have pertussis should contact public health at (867) 767-9120 if they have symptoms or are unsure about their vaccination status.

General Pertussis Letter to Schools: English - French

NWT Immunization Schedule: English - French

Pertussis FAQs: English - French