Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Brendan Hanley says immunization is the best way to protect against whooping cough. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News)

Whooping cough cases continue to rise in the Yukon

‘It does not yet appear to have peaked’

By Jamie-Lee McKenzie

Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, says the Yukon’s pertussis – or whooping cough – outbreak continues to grow at a steady rate.

“We do have over 30 cases that are confirmed,” said Hanley. “And it does not yet appear to have peaked.”

Hanley said it seems outbreaks of whooping cough happens every few years when herd immunity drops.

“Every four to five years you can almost predict that you’ll see pertussis popping up in the community,” he said.

It’s important that people know that pertussis is still spreading and it’s useful for people to know how to protect themselves and others.

Hanley said there are three main pillars for protection: immunization, staying away from others until you’re no longer contagious and using antibiotics to reduce the spread of the disease.

Immunization is the most effective way to lower the risk of whooping cough, said Hanley. It’s especially important for infants and pregnant women to get the vaccine, he said.

While antibiotics can help reduce the spread of whooping cough, people are still contagious for approximately five days after they start the treatment.

“Pertussis is very contagious and unfortunately it’s contagious for quite a while,” said Hanley.

He urges people to keep this in mind when they start thinking about going back to work or sending their kids to daycare or other group settings.

Contact Jamie-Lee McKenzie at jamielee.mckenzie@yukon-news.com