Whooping cough comes north

If you have a nagging cough that just won’t go away, it might not be a cold. It might actually be pertussis, better known as whooping cough. There’s an outbreak of the disease in the territory.

If you have a nagging cough that just won’t go away, it might not be a cold. It might actually be pertussis, better known as whooping cough.

There’s an outbreak of the disease in the territory. But, in the Yukon, it doesn’t take much to meet that threshold.

“If we have one case, we consider that an outbreak,” said Dr. Brendan Hanley, the Yukon’s chief medical officer of health.

So far, there have only been a few lab-confirmed cases, but there are undoubtedly more, he said.

This latest outbreak is linked to the one in B.C.

“It’s certainly not a panic situation, but people ought to know and need to know what’s going on,” said Hanley.

Pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial disease that attacks the lungs and throat.

At first, it just seems like a cold with sneezing, runny nose, a low-grade fever and a mild cough.

Typically the cough gets worse, so bad that it can cause people to gag and throw up. It can last for more than a month.

The name whooping cough comes from the sound people make gasping for breath after a fit of coughing.

For adults, it’s usually just an annoyance, but for young children it’s potentially deadly.

It’s less of a concern here in Canada, but in poor countries the fatality rate for infants can be as high as four per cent.

Of the 48.5 million cases worldwide, almost 300,000 people, mostly children, will succumb to the disease.

“The overall mortality isn’t huge, but in our days even one per cent is still significant,” said Hanley.

Health-care workers, day-care workers, pregnant women and anyone else who may come into contact with young children should make sure that their immunization is up to date, he said. It just takes one vaccination during adulthood to be fully immunized.

Children are a different story.

They’re usually vaccinated once in pre-kindergarten, and then again in Grade 9. However, it’s recommended that children be given a booster shot if it’s been more than five years since their last vaccination.

In 1998, a now-discredited study, published in the Lancet, showed a link between autism and childhood vaccinations for measles, mumps and rubella.

Though the study has since been retracted and the author accused of fraud, the misconception persists, and has been blamed for a drop in immunization rates and outbreaks of preventable diseases.

“It’s such a complete, not only a misconception, but a fraudulent concept that has been propagated in the population,” he said. “We really want to reassure people that the benefits of vaccination are great in terms of preventing some diseases that can have serious consequences.”

In the Yukon, there hasn’t been any change in vaccination rates. Although there are people who are “firmly in the ‘No’ camp of refusing immunizations,” the majority of people simply forget, said Hanley.

“We have more people who just haphazardly fall behind in their schedule,” he said. “It’s been a few years since we had pertussis in the community, so I think it’s a good chance for everyone to remember what whooping cough is … and we’d like it as an opportunity to update any immunizations that may be out of date.”

Contact Josh Kerr at joshk@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A proposed Official Community Plan amendment would designate a 56.3-hectare piece of land in Whistle Bend currently designated as green space, as urban residential use. Whitehorse city council will vote on the second reading of the Official Community Plan amendment on Dec. 7. (Courtesy City of Whitehorse)
Future area of Whistle Bend considered by council

Members set to vote on second reading for OCP change

The City of Whitehorse’s projected deficit could be $100,000 more than originally predicted earlier this year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City deficit could be just over $640,000 this year

Third quarter financial reports presented to council

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speaks during a COVID-19 press conference in Whitehorse on Oct. 30. Masks became mandatory in the Yukon for anyone five years old and older as of Dec. 1 while in public spaces. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
As mask law comes into effect, premier says $500 fines will be last resort

The territory currently has 17 active cases of COVID-19

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Ranj Pillai, minister of economic development, during a press conference on April 1.
Government rejects ATAC mining road proposal north of Keno City

Concerns from the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun were cited as the main reason for the decision

asdf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Dec. 2, 2020

The new Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation council elected Dec. 1. (Submitted)
Little Salmon Carmacks elects new chief, council

Nicole Tom elected chief of Little Salmon Carcmacks First Nation

Submitted/Yukon News file
Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to the unsolved homicide of Allan Donald Waugh, 69, who was found deceased in his house on May 30, 2014.
Yukon RCMP investigating unsolved Allan Waugh homicide

Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to an unsolved… Continue reading

A jogger runs along Millenium Trail as the sun rises over the trees around 11 a.m. in Whitehorse on Dec. 12, 2018. The City of Whitehorse could soon have a new trail plan in place to serve as a guide in managing the more than 233 kilometres of trails the city manages. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
2020 trail plan comes forward

Policies and bylaws would look at e-mobility devices

Snow-making machines are pushed and pulled uphill at Mount Sima in 2015. The ski hill will be converting snow-making to electric power with more than $5 million in funding from the territorial and federal governments. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Mount Sima funded to cut diesel reliance

Mount Sima ski hill is converting its snowmaking to electric power with… Continue reading

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Most Read