Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Outbreak in the NWT

YELLOWKNIFE (February 25, 2016) – Pertussis is a bacterial infection most commonly transmitted person to person through coughing or sneezing. Anyone can get Pertussis, but it can be very serious for babies (under one year) and people with weakened immune systems. Confirmed cases of Pertussis are treated with antibiotics for the infected individuals and household contacts.


The number of cases of Pertussis in the NWT rose in 2015 compared to previous years. The majority of these cases were linked to travel outside the NWT. Throughout 2015 there were a total of 21 confirmed cases of Pertussis in the NWT, distributed among the Tłı̨chǫ Region, Hay River, Yellowknife and the Beaufort Delta. There has been one confirmed case so far in 2016.


An outbreak of Pertussis was declared in the Yellowknife region in November 2015, and reinstated in January of 2016 for all of the Northwest Territories.


Pertussis vaccine is part of the routine NWT Immunization Schedule and is given as part of a series in infancy with a booster during kindergarten screening. Since the immunity conferred by Pertussis vaccine may fade over time, an adolescent booster dose is now offered in grade 7 instead of grade 9 as in the past. In adulthood, a Pertussis booster is recommended every 10 years. The NWT is the only jurisdiction in which the adult booster is always publicly funded.


Symptoms of Pertussis typically present within 7-10 days, but may also occur up to 21 days after exposure. Initial symptoms resemble the common cold, and can include:


  1. Fever
  2. Runny nose
  3. Sneezing
  4. Persistent cough, which may cause choking or vomiting, and often has a “seal bark” sound quality.


Untreated Pertussis can result in serious illness or death.


Due the potential for serious complications for children less than 12 months of age, all pregnant women 26 weeks gestation or greater are advised to get vaccinated against Pertussis regardless of their current immunization status for the duration of the current outbreak.


If you are uncertain of your child’s or your own vaccine status please contact your local health centre or public health unit to confirm if they are up to date. If immunizations have been received outside the NWT, please contact the office where the vaccine was received and ask to have the immunization records transmitted to your local health centre or public health unit.


More information about Pertussis is available on the Public Health Agency of Canada website at:



If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your local health centre or public health unit.




For more information contact:


Damien Healy

Manager Communications

Health and Social Services

(867) 767-9052 ext 49034