A person in Nunavut has died of whooping cough, health department says

A person in Nunavut has died of whooping cough, the territorial government confirmed Monday morning.

A spokesperson for Nunavut's Health Department said that they will not be releasing information on the deceased or which community the death took place in, citing respect for the family and patient confidentiality.

Deaths from whooping cough are uncommon. According to the spokesperson, less than 1 in 1,000 cases across Canada result in death. 

Earlier this month, a case of the disease was confirmed in Iqaluit; it was the first instance of whooping cough in the territory's capital since 2016.

That year marked the start of two outbreaks in two years, which resulted in hundreds of cases, but no declared fatalities.

Known officially as pertussis, whooping cough is a contagious infection of the throat and lungs that spreads from person to person. It can be very serious or fatal.

Anyone can get whooping cough, but the most severe cases are in children under the age of one, according to the Nunavut Department of Health.

Symptoms can include:

  • trouble breathing;
  • vomiting after coughing;
  • cough followed by an unusual "whoop" sound;
  • coughing that is worse at night;
  • a high fever that lasts more than three days.

The Nunavut government says the infection is preventable with a vaccine. 

The government is urging Nunavummiut to check if their immunization records are up to date. Vaccinations are free at local health centres.