11/09/2012 07:16 PM by Dax VanFossen - KPAX/KAJ News
BIGFORK - Six cases of whooping cough are confirmed in third through 11th graders in the Bigfork school system.
At the Flathead County Health Department, Community Health Services Director … Click to Read More and see additional updates
11/09/2012 07:16 PM by Dax VanFossen - KPAX/KAJ News
BIGFORK - Six cases of whooping cough are confirmed in third through 11th graders in the Bigfork school system.
At the Flathead County Health Department, Community Health Services Director Jodi White says it can be hard to pinpoint where a pertussis outbreak starts. White tells us that despite the high numbers in the Bigfork school system, administrators have done everything right in handling pertussis cases and preventing other children from contracting the illness.
Since Oct. 15, there have been about 24 cases of pertussis in Flathead County.
The best way to prevent pertussis is having a current vaccination. Click here to visit the Flathead County Health Department website.
11/01/2012 04:24 PM by Dax VanFossen - KAJ News
BIGFORK - The Bigfork School District is the latest to succumb to pertussis, or whooping cough, but according to the Flathead County Health Department quick action caught the problem.
Bigfork school officials notified parents Monday that a student at was diagnosed with pertussis.
Superintendent Cynthia Clary says educators and administrators along with the school district nurse have been busy identifying possible spread of the disease, along with prevention of future spread.
The notice also told parents if their child was directly exposed, the Flathead County Health Department will contact them directly.
09/24/2012 07:27 AM by Tara Oster - KAJ News
KALISPELL- There's been one confirmed case of whooping cough in the Flathead so far this school year, and in a school environment, contagious diseases often spread quickly.
Health officials told us last week they quickly got a handle on the case at Kalispell Middle School and were medicating those that may have been exposed.
School officials notified parents once they learned of the student's illness and they believe it was contracted out of the area.
But health officials say there's some good news though if you think your child has been exposed to pertussis.
"Treatment is very effective. It's the same. A treatment of a person that is known to have pertussis and those that we profilax because we suspect that they've been exposed to pertussis, it's the same treatment," Flathead City-Ciounty Health Department Dirctor Joe Russell explained.
Students who contract whooping cough but are treated correctly often only need to miss about five days of school.
09/20/2012 10:38 AM by Tara Oster - KAJ News
KALISPELL- The Kalispell School District is dealing with its first case this school year of whooping cough, that's turned up in a student at Kalispell Middle School.
Flathead City-County Health Department Director Joe Russell says the school has done a great job handling the situation, adding that the illness was likely contracted out of the area. An adult in Flathead County contracted pertussis as well, but the two cases are unrelated.
There was a significant whooping cough outbreak in the spring, and parents are encouraged to look for the symptoms.
"If they've been notified that their children may have been around a pertussis case, then we want them to be looking at their children for cold symptoms - stuff that we know are precursors to the cough," Russell said.
He added that if treated correctly, students who contract whooping cough need to stay out of school for about five days.
07/19/2012 08:18 PM by Miriam Falco - CNN Medical Managing Editor
(CNN) -- 2012 might be a record year for whooping cough in the United States if midyear trends continue. Nearly 18,000 cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention so far this year - the highest rates in five years.
"That's more than twice as many as we had at the at the same time last year," said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC. "We may need to go back to 1959 to find a year with as many cases reported by this time so far, " she said Thursday.
Pertussis is a highly contagious illness caused by a bacterium called Bordetella pertussis. It easily spreads from person to person when people cough or sneeze. It starts out with symptoms very similar to a cold, but a week or two later, a violent cough develops. It's better known as whooping cough because of the "whooping" sound those infected make when they are violently coughing over and over again and try to inhale.
The cough can last for weeks, and children can cough so hard and rapidly that blood vessels can burst. They have difficulty eating, drinking and breathing.
Young children are particularly at high risk for serious complications. Schuchat says so far nine babies have died from pertussis this year. She adds that the highest rates of illness have been seen in babies younger than 1, and half of those cases have been infants younger than 3 months old.
Whooping cough is vaccine preventable, but newborns can't get the first dose of vaccine until they are 2 months. Then they need four more vaccinations before they turn 7 to get full protection. This is why young children are highly dependent on the people close to them to be vaccinated so they don't pass the disease on to them.
"We strongly urge pregnant women and all who will be around babies to be vaccinated. Infants often get pertussis from a family member or household member," said Schuchat. The latest CDC data suggest only 8% of adults get a booster vaccine against pertussis.
Schuchat says many states are seeing higher than expected cases of pertussis.
One of the states hit hard in this wave of disease is Washington. In April, the Washington State Department of Health declared an epidemic . The department is reporting 3,014 cases as of July 14 -- a 1,300% increase compared with the same time in 2011, when they reported 219 cases. Health Secretary Mary Selecky said: "We are seeing the largest number of cases in our state since the early 1940s."
Wisconsin is reporting 3,022 confirmed and probable cases so far in 2012.
Schuchat says pertussis cases go up and down in waves. She says if the number of cases continue to grow, "we may be on track for record high pertussis rates this year." The last time whooping cough rates were climbing in the U.S. was in 2010, when 27,550 cases of pertussis were reported to the CDC.
In addition to high rates of illness among of babies, new data published Thursday in the CDC's "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report," shows high rates of whooping cough among 13- to 14-year-old adolescents in Washington. Schuchat says this is something health officials are seeing nationwide as well and is different from previous pertussis outbreaks.
Why this is happening isn't entirely clear. Schuchat suggests waning of immunity or a weakening of the protection over time might be part of the what's contributing to these teens getting sick.
Health officials acknowledge that vaccines are not perfect, but they do provide the best protection against whooping cough. So the CDC is emphasizing the importance of young children getting their five pertussis vaccinations, then getting the recommended booster shots between 11 and 12 and that adults who will be around babies also getting vaccinated.
"In 2010, only 8% of adults had any history of receiving a Tdap booster," said Schuchat.
She suggests that clinicians who see patients with a persistent cough consider pertussis as a diagnosis. Then she says doctors should "be proactive with treatment, especially with pregnant women, infants and others who are around infants."
TM & © 2012 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.
07/13/2012 07:35 PM by KPAX News Staff
MISSOULA- Health official say just because summer is here, doesn't mean pertussis, or whooping cough, will go away.
There are 17 confirmed cases in Missoula County as of July 12th with the Missoula County Health Department website says it's currently working with 576 people who have been exposed to pertussis.
Experts say vigilance is very important to protect children during summer gatherings, camps and other events. Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent the spread of the disease, and if a loved one has had a cough for more than a few days, it's best to see a doctor.
06/12/2012 09:48 AM by Katy Harris - KAJ News
KALISPELL- The Flathead City-County Health Department confirmed three more cases of pertussis in the county, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 59.
The whooping cough cases were found in children in two different schools, which did not have previous reports of the illness.
Flathead County Health Officer Joe Russell says the outbreak should be winding down, but adds that the best way to protect yourself is through vaccination.
He says you can contact your health care provider or the health department at (406) 751.8110 for vaccination information.
06/06/2012 10:44 AM by KPAX/KAJ Media Center
HELENA- The latest numbers from the Montana State Department of Health and Human Services show that Flathead and Ravalli counties still have the most confirmed cases of whooping cough in Montana.
Overall, there have been 252 confirmed pertussis cases in Montana since the beginning of the year and Flathead and Ravalli counties have logged 53 in each county.
No deaths have been reported, however state numbers show that 15 cases have been diagnosed in children under one year of age.
Pertussis has show up in 18 Montana counties this year with Missoula County seeing 12 confirmed cases and Lake County seeing seven according to DPPHS statistics.
Whooping cough is often marked by uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe. After fits of many coughs, someone with pertussis often needs to take deep breathes which result in a "whooping" sound.
State officials are still stressing that the best way to protect against pertussis is to get immunized.
05/31/2012 07:48 PM by Angela Marshall (KAJ News)
KALISPELL- Local health officials are warning parents to immunize their children as more pertussis cases pop up across the Flathead.
The total number of confirmed whooping cough cases now stands at 56 with the Flathead City-County Health Department saying earlier this week that three more cases among school-aged children were officially logged.
One of the pertussis cases was at Somers School, where no other cases had been reported and of the trio of new incidents, two were notified by the health department to start prophylactic treatment, but never started.
Health Department Director Joe Russell says that if the recommended intervention strategies are not followed than valley residents can expect additional pertussis cases. He is advising people with pertussis to stay home from work and school for at least five days after starting treatment with antibiotics.
05/30/2012 08:15 PM by Dennis Bragg (KPAX/KAJ Media Center)
KALISPELL- The Flathead City-County Health Department says the number of pertussis cases in the Kalispell area continues to grow, leading to more warning for parents to their children immunized.
Health officials say they received reports of three additional "whooping cough" cases on Tuesday after. One is at Somers School, where no pertussis cases have been reported before. That brings the total number of confirmed cases to 56.
"Of the three new school-aged cases confirmed over the past few days, two were notified by our office of the need to start prophylactic treatment and never started. Most disturbing is that one of the cases was not started on prophylaxis due to the health care provider not feeling it was necessary," stated Joe Russell. "We follow the nationally-recognized guidelines for identifying close contacts of known pertussis cases. Information regarding close contacts generally comes from the schools and the cases. When recommended intervention strategies are not followed, we can expect additional cases."
Health officials say they're especially concerned about babies, since the smallest infants are too young to be immunized and don't have the naturally abilities yet to fight the infection and are at a greater risk of dying from pertussis.
They say the best step is for people with pertussis to stay home from work and school for at least five days after starting treatment with antibiotics.
05/21/2012 01:12 PM by Dax VanFossen (KAJ News)
KALISPELL- The number of pertussis cases continues to rise in Flathead County and two more schools have students who have tested positive for whooping cough.
Flathead City-County Health Department Director Joe Russell says his office has now confirmed 47 cases of pertussis in Flathead County.
The two new schools seeing the cases are Columbia Falls Middle School and Hedges School in Kalispell where students turned up with confirmed whooping cough cases.
Russell says that in many of these cases the people being affected by the disease have long been exposed to it by a family member.
Russell added that say he anticipates the number of cases to slow down as we near the end of the school year.
Meanwhile, Ravalli County health officials say they have not seen an increase in pertussis cases and have 52 confirmed cases in the Bitterroot. Missoula County is still holding steady at seven pertussis cases.
05/19/2012 10:39 AM by KPAX/KAJ Media Center
KALISPELL- Local health officials are reporting that three more whooping cough cases have been confirmed in Flathead County, bringing the total to 39.
The Flathead City-County Health Department reports that three more cases of pertussis were confirmed late Friday with two of the three new cases coming from unimmunized children.
The latest whooping cough cases were identified due to our close contact investigations according to a news release and the people who have tested positive have been contacted and treated.
Health officials say that no new additional schools have been identified as a result of the latest cases. Tests are still being run and an updated count is expected late Monday morning.
Vaccine is available for individuals two months of age and older and you can contact the Flathead City-County Health Department at (406) 751.8110 or your medical provider for more information.
05/18/2012 12:52 PM by KPAX/KAJ Media Center
HELENA- State health officials are still logging reports of whooping cough with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services saying on Friday that the number of cases has passed 200, the highest number since Montana's 2005 outbreak that resulted in almost 600 cases.
Health officials are encouraging everyone, including adults, to take advantage of available vaccines and visit a medical provider if you have a persistent cough to help slow the spread of the disease.
There are whooping cough cases being reported in 18 of the state's counties and tribal health jurisdictions including Ravalli, Lake, Missoula and Flathead counties with health officials saying they are concerned that the number of reported cases will continue to increase unless people take action to protect themselves and others.
Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory illness spread by coughing and sneezing, but one that can be prevented by getting vaccinated. Although it initially resembles an ordinary cold, pertussis can turn more serious, particularly in infants. Over half of infants diagnosed will require hospitalization.
Several states are reporting increases in reported pertussis, Washington State is leading the way with 1,300 cases reported this year.
"We continue to see cases of pertussis and most are preventable," DPHHS Director Anna Whiting Sorrell said. "Making sure parents and caregivers are up to date on their vaccines is our best long-term strategy. Anyone caring for children can take advantage of the vaccine to prevent spreading pertussis."
Local health officials are still working to stop the spread of the disease to close contacts such as classmates and family members. Close environments such as schools and daycares are ideal for easily and quickly spreading pertussis and present challenges to health officials.
"We are getting great cooperation from schools who assist us by referring ill children to providers and are helping with immunization reviews‚" said Karl Milhon, manager of the state's Communicable Disease Program.
Pertussis vaccination begins at age two months and a relatively new pertussis vaccine is available and is now recommended for all teens and adults. Click here to learn more about whooping cough vaccinations.
The hardest hit part of the state has been in the Bitterroot Valley where at last check 50 confirmed cases of pertussis had been reported in Ravalli County. Meanwhile, over 35 cases have been logged in Flathead County.
05/17/2012 08:54 PM by Angela Marshall (KAJ News)
KALISPELL- New data released late Thursday shows the number of pertussis cases in the Flathead Valley has grown to 36.
Four school-aged children and two adults were identified as having whooping cough on Thursday with the Flathead City-County Health Department reporting those four students were in the same class as a child identified on Tuesday as having the illness.
But, due to the health department's "contact investigation" throughout area schools, they were referred for testing and treated immediately.
Eleven Flathead Valley school districts are currently identified as having students with whooping cough.
05/17/2012 06:46 AM by Melissa Rafferty (KPAX News)
HELENA- The number of whooping cough continues to grow in Ravalli and Flathead counties with no signs of easing up. More cases were reported in both counties on Wednesday, with the total number of confirmed cases in Ravalli County alone hitting the 50 mark.
State officials report that so far this year 182 cases of pertussis have been confirmed in the state of Montana. Health officials say it's been awhile since they have seen numbers this high and caution that if the trend continues it could shape up to be one of the worst years.
Montana Health Department Chief of Communicable Diseases Jim Murphy says two infants have died from whooping cough in the last 10 years adding that so far this year 12 infants have contracted pertussis.
"Infants are the greatest concern to us. if you are under 12 months and you get pertussis, half of those kids will end up in the hospital, so this is where our biggest problem lies. So its something we take very serious," Murphy said.
"So anything we can do to protect those infants, vaccinating your teenagers, vaccinate adults who are caregivers to these infants, school staff and daycare staff all of these people can get a safe
and affective pertussis vaccine that will protect other people," he added.
Murphy says they are concerned the whooping cough outbreak could get worse.
"It's been awhile since we seen numbers this high, but we have seen them higher. In 2005 we ended up with 589 cases during that year, so we're not quite at that level yet, but it's early in the year. So we are very concerned if this trend continues, it would shape up to be one of our worst years ever," Murphy concluded.
He's encouraging Montanans to know their immunization status and talk with their health care provider to get caught up on their vaccinations.
Click here to learn more about whooping cough.
05/16/2012 01:01 PM by Mark Thorsell (KPAX/KAJ Media Center)
KALISPELL- The whooping cough outbreak is continuing to grow in Western Montana with more cases reported in Flathead County and three more incidents reported in Ravalli County as of mid-day Wednesday.
Flathead City-County Health Department officials say the newly confirmed pertussis cases has upped the total to 30 with the new results showing that school age children as well as adults have tested positive for whooping cough.
Flathead City-County Health Department DIrector Joe Russel reports that there are now 10 school systems involved in Flathead County. More cases may crop up as health officials say they are still awaiting test results.
Ravalli County Health Director Judy Griffin told Montana's News Station early Wednesday afternoon that they have 50 confirmed cases in the Bitterroot and also waiting for 20 more test results to come back from the state lab in Helena.
The latest numbers available from the Montana Department of Health and Human Services show that eight cases of whooping cough have been reported in Missoula County, five in Lake County and two in Lincoln County.
Vaccine is available for individuals two months of age and older and residents should contact the local health department or their healthcare provider.
05/15/2012 08:23 PM by Angela Marshall (KAJ News)
KALISPELL- There are now 25 confirmed pertussis cases in Flathead County after local health officials confirmed four more whooping cough cases on Tuesday afternoon.
Flathead City-County Health Department Director Joe Russel says the new cases involve fifth graders at two rural Flathead Valley schools, meaning that pertussis has now popped up in eight school districts.
The health department is advising residents to get tested if they've been exposed to a person with a positive case of pertussis and there is also a vaccine available for people as young as two months old.
Contact the Flathead City-County Health Department at (406) 751.8110 or your medical provider for more information.
05/14/2012 10:12 PM by Katy Harris (KAJ News)
KALISPELL- The number of confirmed pertussis cases keeps climbing in Flathead County, jumping from 16 to 21 on Monday. Now in an effort to fight the illness, a handful of students have been banned from Flathead County schools because they have not received the whooping cough shot.
Flathead County Health Department officials say about 10 students in Columbia Falls, Bigfork, Swan River, and Kalispell have been banned from returning to school. Three of the new cases reported Monday are in students who attend Kalispell Middle School while health officials say origin of the other two cases isn't known.
Since pertussis surfaced this year, health department officials have been working with school districts to prevent further illness and the health department has installed a protocol by encouraging vaccination.
Health officials have ruled that any students electing not to receive the pertussis vaccine for medical or religious purposes are not allowed in schools until they're vaccinated or have passed the 21 day exposure period.
"We're doing everything we can to make contact with anyone who could've been a close contact of anyone who may have pertussis," the health department's Joe Russell explained. "Everything's been great-great community response. This isn't just us. It's the schools, you know, everyone has to be working to get this thing done."
Health officials say that once school lets out for the summer, the whooping cough cases should subside because there won't be as much closed contact between students.
The number of confirmed pertussis cases continues to rise in western Montana with Missoula County now reporting seven confirmed cases of whooping cough. Meanwhile, Ravalli County continues to be the hardest hit county in Montana with 47 confirmed cases of whooping cough.
05/14/2012 06:15 PM by Irina Cates (KPAX News)
MISSOULA- Missoula County now has seven confirmed cases of whooping cough with the Missoula City-County Health Department reporting that cases range in age from infants to adults and includes both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated population.
Health department officials say this is the worst pertussis outbreak they've ever seen in this county, but can't say where some of the cases were reported in the community.
However last week, the Missoula County Public Schools confirmed it had a whooping cough case at Sentinel High School and health officials say so far that's the only confirmed case in a Missoula County school.
Local health department personnel have been busy trying to make sure people have the right treatments, if they've been in close contact with someone who was diagnosed with whooping cough.
"Make sure that you are current on your pertussis vaccination. If you haven't received a pertussis containing tetanus vaccine since childhood, it would be a good time to get a booster and to make sure that your children's vaccinations are also current," Missoula City-County Health Department Lead Infectious Disease Nurse Cindy Hotchkiss advised..
The health department set up a number for general information about Missoula County whooping cough case at 258-3500.
05/11/2012 04:44 PM by KPAX/KAJ Media Center
KALISPELL- Local health officials say they have received more reports of whooping cough in Flathead County with the Flathead City-County Health Department saying they've received reports of five more cases of pertussis.
Four tests came back positive on middle school students while the fifth case is said to be a "familial contact confirmed case in an elderly individual" according to a news release. Health officials add that additional tests are pending at this time.
There are now 13 confirmed cases of pertussis in Flathead County with health department spokeswoman Jodi White saying that one more case is still undergoing additional testing, bringing the total number of cases in the valley to 14.
Nine students are affected in the Glacier Gateway Elementary and Ruder Elementary schools in Columbia Falls, the Swan River School near Bigfork and Kalispell Middle School.
A confirmed case of whooping cough at KMS prompted the health department officials to ask the school to cancel Thursday night's sixth grade concert to prevent the spread of the illness at a public gathering.
The district is now taking extra precautions in each of the Kalispell schools.
"Students that have not had their booster are being excluded from school until they have had a booster. And we are also working with the Flathead County Health Department to ensure that anyone who has come into contact with someone who has a known case of pertussis is being notified," Kalispell Schools Superintendent Darlene Schottle said.
Anyone with pertussis is advised not go to day care, school, work or public gatherings until at least five days after starting an antibiotic. Health officials add it's also important that all household and close contacts including classmates be treated with medication at the same time as anyone with pertussis.
Health officials are also urging those who have had a cough lasting more than one week to consult their health care provider. A vaccine is available for individuals two months of age and older. Contact the Health Department at (406) 751.8110 or your medical provider for more information.
White also told us Friday that controlling the pertussis outbreak takes a community effort.
05/11/2012 11:14 AM by Melissa Rafferty (KPAX News)
MISSOULA- The recent whooping cough outbreak is continuing to spread across Western Montana with no signs of it letting up.
The Ravalli County Health Department reports there are now 47 cases of pertussis in Ravalli County with health director Judy Griffin adding that four new cases were reported Friday morning. She said two of the cases are in the Corvallis school system while the other two cases are in younger children.
Corvallis and Victor students who were banned from school because they were not immunized for pertussis are expected to return to class on Monday, but Griffin tells us health officials for the county will revisit that decision Friday afternoon.
Meanwhile, another whooping cough case is suspected in a Flathead Valley school, bringing the total to nine cases. The Kalispell School District reported a possible case of pertussis at Kalispell Middle School to the Flathead City-County Health Department on Thursday.
Eight cases of pertussis have been documented in the Flathead since Wednesday with one confirmed in the Columbia Falls School District and another at Swan River School.
A whooping cough case was also reported at Sentinel High School in Missoula late last week, though we have not heard of any other confirmed cases in Missoula County.
05/11/2012 09:43 AM by Laura Wilson (KAJ News)
KALISPELL- Another case of whooping cough is suspected in a Flathead Valley school with the Kalispell School District reporting that there's a possible case of pertussis at Kalispell Middle School.
The Flathead City-County Health Department received a report on Thursday, but health officials have not confirmed whether or not that individual is infected. Additional tests are pending.
Eight new cases of whooping cough were documented in the Flathead earlier this week, with one confirmed in the Columbia Falls School District and another confirmed case reported at Swan River School.
05/10/2012 07:11 AM by Dax VanFossen (KAJ News)
KALISPELL- The whooping cough outbreak spread to the northwest part of the state after showing up in two different Flathead Valley school districts.
The Flathead City-County Health Department documented eight new cases of pertussis and we found out one case is in the Columbia Falls School District while the other case is at Swan River School.
The health department's Jodi White cautioned that pertussis can easily spread to other districts.
"Actually our first case out of the eight, we feel was probably infected somewhere else in the state, and so of course pertussis is not bound by county boundaries or even state boundaries."
Flathead City-County Health Department officials say immunization is the best way to prevent infection and that infants and children are most susceptible to whooping cough.
Health officials add that if you or your child have had a cough for more than one week then you should call your health care provider.
05/09/2012 12:36 PM by KPAX/KAJ Media Center
KALISPELL- Several cases of pertussis are being reported in a pair of school districts with local health officials saying they have received reports of eight cases.
The Flathead City-County Health Department is also cautioning in a news release that they are waiting for additional whooping cough test results to come back.
"We are working closely with school personnel and medical providers to identify contacts to these cases and to refer symptomatic individuals for testing." said Jody White, RN, Community Health Services Director.
Officials have not yet indicated which school districts are seeing the pertussis cases, but they advise that folks who been exposed and are showing symptoms of whooping cough should stay home from school or work until they can see a doctor.
Health officials urge those who have had a cough lasting more than one week to consult their health care provider. Symptoms usually appear within five to 10 days after exposure, but can take as long as 21 days to show up.
The first symptoms to appear are similar to those of a common cold accompanied by coughing. The cough gradually becomes worse with coughing spasms, which can end in vomiting or the characteristic, high-pitched "whoop." If you have suspicious symptoms please stay home and call your doctor. Early treatment and notification of close contacts is important.
Pertussis is spread through direct contact with discharges from the mouth and nose of infected persons and health officials are emphasizing that the best way to avoid contracting whooping cough is by getting immunized.
Flathead County is just the latest area to report whooping cough cases. Over 30 cases reported in Ravalli County prompted officials to order that some students be kept home from school. A case has recently been reported at Sentinel High School in Missoula and earlier this week at least two cases were reported in Billings.
Click here to learn more about the symptoms and treatments of pertussis.
05/03/2012 02:46 PM by Melissa Rafferty (KPAX News)
MISSOULA- The Missoula City-County Health Department has confirmed that a Sentinel High School student has contracted pertussis.
Infectious Disease Nurse Cindy Hotchkiss tells us they were notified Wednesday about the case and she added there is only one case in Missoula County.
Hotchkiss said the health department is in contact with students and teachers who may have been in close proximity to the student who has whooping cough. She could not say if the student was immunized.
Missoula County Public Schools Director of Public Affairs Lesli Brassfield says the health department is working with Sentinel High School nurses as well as the student's family members to identify close contacts of the student.
Sentinel school officials are encouraging parents to monitor the health of their students as a precaution, particularly if their student did not receive immunizations as a child.
Any students experiencing symptoms of persistent cough and/or fever may want to consult a health care provider. Brassfield says the school will be monitoring student attendance and staying in close communication with the health department. At this time, both the school district and health department are encouraging parents to keep their students in school.
Hotchkiss says unlike Ravalli County, where 10% of the student population is not immunized, Missoula County has between 2-4% un-immunized rate and added that helps control the spread of the disease.
She says it's not uncommon for Missoula to have pertussis cases and that the Missoula City-County Health Department sees about one case every three to four months.
Click here to learm more about whooping cough.
05/01/2012 12:23 PM by Jill Valley (KPAX News)
LIBBY- Health officials report that no pertussis cases have turned up in Lincoln County.
Communicable Disease Coordinator Marci Johnson says that the state health department keeps track of pertussis cases and most recent tally included two cases of people who caught the disease from out-of-state more than two months ago.
Johnson says she's been getting calls from people worried the current Bitterroot Valley whooping cough outbreak has reached north into Lincoln County, but she says that's not the case.
The outbreak in the Bitterroot Valley has made more than 30 people sick and caused two schools to keep unvaccinated students out of the classroom.
05/01/2012 07:32 AM by KPAX News Staff
MISSOULA- Whooping cough is now hitting other areas of Western Montana.
The latest numbers from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services showing 34 cases in Ravalli County, one in Missoula County, one in the Flathead and two in Lincoln County.
There are nearly 90 reported cases of pertussis across Montana since January, compared to about 50 cases over the same period last year.
Local and state public health officials are concerned the number of reported cases will continue to increase unless people take action to protect themselves and others.
04/30/2012 12:50 PM by KPAX/KAJ Media Center
HELENA- State health officials are following several recent outbreaks of pertussis across Montana, including the one in Ravalli County.
The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) reports that outbreaks of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, are being reported in several parts of the state, prompting the agency to urge children and adults to get vaccinated.
Nearly 90 cases of pertussis have been reported across the Treasure State since January as compared to approximately 50 cases for the same period last year. Recent cases have been reported in Broadwater, Gallatin, Lewis and Clark, Ravalli, and Stillwater counties.
Local and state public health officials are concerned that the number of reported cases will continue to increase unless people take action to protect themselves and others.
Washington State has reported a large increase in reported pertussis, with nearly 800 cases reported over the last four months and Montana health officials say they don't want what is occurring in Washington State to happen here.
"Most cases of pertussis are preventable," said DPHHS Director Anna Whiting Sorrell. "All parents and caregivers of children need to make sure their children are up to date on this and other vaccines. Anyone who cares for children should also be up to date on their vaccinations to prevent spreading pertussis."
People who are vaccinated are unlikely to become ill after an exposure or spread the illness to others and l
Local health jurisdictions with recent cases are working hard to control or stop the spread of the disease. Ravalli County health officials recently ordered that several unvaccinated students not attend classes in some Bitterroot school systems until mid-May.
"We encourage parents to not send children who are ill to schools and daycares because pertussis spreads quickly in these settings," said Karl Milhon, manager of the DPHHS Communicable Disease Program.
DPHHS health officials are issuing a reminder that pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory illness spread by coughing and sneezing, but one that may be prevented by getting vaccinated. Although it initially resembles an ordinary cold, pertussis can turn more serious, particularly in infants. Over half of infants diagnosed will require hospitalization.
More information is available from local health providers and public health departments as well as online.
04/28/2012 11:17 AM by Derek Buerkle (KPAX Sports)
CORVALLIS- The whooping cough outbreak in Ravalli County is even affecting the sports landscape.
Corvallis High School is currently missing 18 athletes from their track, tennis and softball teams, because they have to stay home from school. And the athletic director told us on Friday that he feels worst for the four seniors.
"You know, as far as school goes, you know, that's probably the easiest part of the thing that we can deal with, because we can get the work to the kids," said Athletic Director/Assistant Principal Tyson Tucker.
"As far as, you know, activities go, you can't replace kids actually being out there and practicing with their teammates and playing in games. That's the hardest thing, especially for these seniors, is they're missing out on some things that they'll never ever have the opportunity to do again," he added.
Most of the athletes will get to come back to school in mid-May as it stands now and that's the same time that the postseason starts for tennis and track.
04/27/2012 06:21 PM by Breanna Roy (KPAX News)
HAMILTON- More classes are being interrupted as additional students are being diagnosed with whooping cough in Ravalli County. Now Pertussis is stifling the relationship between a school and a parent.
Andrea Phillips waited to get her 4-year-old daughter, Summer, checked for pertussis on Friday morning, one day after finding out three students in her school were diagnosed with whooping cough. But she said the school, Ravalli Head Start, did not tell parents as soon as it should have.
"We're having an outbreak of pertussis and they kept quiet about it until the next day," Phillips said. "My daughter was allowed to go to school in the affected classroom all day yesterday and I was not notified until ten minutes before class got out."
Phillips said if the school would've let her know as soon as it knew, on Wednesday night, about the pertussis case in her daughter's classroom she never would've brought her to school on Thursday. But Ravalli Head Start Executive Director John Fielz said the school called parents as soon as it could.
"I think we were as responsive and as timely as we possibly could be," Fielz said. "It was so late in the day by the time we had the information that we needed in order to sit down on Thursday morning and say, 'Okay, we need to tell parents this, this and this, in this order.' We did that on Thursday morning and we moved as quickly as we possibly could."
"The parents should've been called that night," Phillips told us.
"In a perfect world, if you could communicate instantaneously it would be nice," Fielz said. "But I think we've done everything we can do."
Meanwhile Phillips is doing everything she can to keep her daughter healthy, which she says likely means keeping her out of school the final four weeks.
"I don't think she will be returning to school either way," Phillips said. "I don't think they're reporting the infections quick enough and what if they don't again, she still has the chance to get sick."
Phillips said the school and the teachers have been great, it's the "higher-ups" she's upset with.
Ravalli Head Start sent parents who have children in the three affected classrooms a letter. It said they must take their child to a doctor to be treated with antibiotics. And all symptomatic students must stay out of school while they are tested and treated.
Provided parents cooperate, the school will have class on Monday. Three of the 102 students now have Pertussis. One of the three with Pertussis had a vaccination exemption and five total students have signed exemptions.
04/27/2012 01:10 PM by KPAX/KAJ Media Center
HAMILTON- The whooping cough outbreak that has been hitting the Bitterroot Valley shows no signs of easing.
The latest update from Ravalli County Public Health Director Judy Griffin shows that health officials have confirmed 31 cases of Pertussis in Ravalli County while she says they are waiting for work from Helena on another 15 possible cases of the illness.
The outbreak began earlier this month at the private Pines Academy in Pinesdale but has since spread to several schools systems in Ravalli County. Health officials also report that Pertussis have been reported at Ravalli County Head Start in Hamilton and another incident has been reported at an area daycare.
Earlier this week, health officials banned Corvallis and Victor students who are not immunized against Pertussis from attending classes for 21 days. Those students will be allowed back to school in Corvallis and Victor on May 14th.
04/26/2012 09:49 PM by Robin O'Day (KPAX News)
CORVALLIS- Ninety-six Corvallis students who are not immunized for whooping cough have been banned from attending school and that's taking a toll on parents and teachers.
Over 7% of the student body is not allowed in school since the Ravalli County Public Health Officer made the announcement.
That means parents are busy picking up and dropping off their child's homework, while teachers are hustling to get work packets together so none of the students who are forced to stay home lag behind.
Despite the challenging circumstance, Corvallis Schools Superintendent Monte Silk says there's no other choice.
"There's no way they aren't hurt by this, however, if we're preventing the spread of a contagious disease that trumps like aces do in poker, all the other cards in the deck."
Students are just missing from the classroom, their also absent from athletic team practices. The track team is missing almost a dozen of their athletes because their parents have decided not to vaccinate their children against pertussis for religious purposes or medical reasons.
Superintendent Silk says he respects the wish of the parents, but he must honor the Public Health Officer's request to not allow students who haven't been immunized back to school.
Students who are not immunized will be allowed back to school in Corvallis on May 14th and the same rule applies for students in Victor.
Health officials report that there are currently 27 confirmed pertussis cases in Ravalli County.
04/25/2012 02:14 PM by Melissa Rafferty (KPAX News)
HAMILTON- Ravalli County health officials say that they are still seeing more cases of whooping cough spouting up in the Bitterroot.
Five new cases of Pertussis have been confirmed in Ravalli County, bringing the total number of cases to 27.
The Ravalli County Public Health Department says three of the five new cases are reportedly in children who attend a Ravalli County Head Start program and one child attends a day care.
The outbreak was first reported earlier this month at the private Pines Academy in Pinesdale, but has since spread to the Victor and Corvallis school systems as well as other areas in Ravalli County.
Ravalli County Health Department Director Judy Griffin says any student that is not immunized because of religion or other health reasons, is banned from Corvallis and Victor schools until May 13th.
Pertussis is a contagious bacterial disease that affects the respiratory tract and can affect persons of all ages, but is most serious in infants and young children. Pertussis is spread by contact with respiratory droplets from an infected person through coughing.
Health officials encourage parents to have their children immunized.
04/23/2012 06:34 PM by Melissa Rafferty (KPAX News)
HAMILTON- The whooping cough outbreak in Ravalli County has forced health officials to ban Corvallis and Victor students who are not immunized against Pertussis from attending classes for 21 days.
Ravalli County Health Department Director Judy Griffin says the county's health officer made that decision Sunday night in hopes of stopping the pertussis outbreak. Griffin says any student that is not immunized because of religion or other health reasons, is banned from Corvallis and Victor schools until May 13th.
Griffin says there are 22 cases, 19 children, three adults, in Ravalli County that originated in Pinesdale, but has now spread to Corvallis and Victor. She says an infant was in the hospital with whooping cough and a Bitterroot Valley daycare has reported two cases of whooping cough.
The other cases are primarily students in the Corvallis and Victor school districts.
04/20/2012 10:28 PM by Robin O'Day (KPAX News)
HAMILTON- The Ravalli County Health Department has their hands full with a recent spike in positive pertussis cases as a total of 22 people have tested positive in the Bitterroot.
"We've seen a lot of these types of outbreaks in the past, but this is one of the larger ones," Ravalli County Health Department Director Judy Griffin said.
Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital's Convenient Care waiting room was full of people waiting to go in and see the doctor on Friday afternoon and everyone was wearing a mask.
Griffin says immunization is the biggest prevention for this highly contagious disease.
"The lesser people in the community that aren't immunized, your herd immunity drops and therefore when you get pertussis or a disease of this nature in the community, then there's more of an issue of people that are unimmunized or even immunized as well getting sick from the disease."
"With this type of cough, it takes on a different nature of a spasmodic type of cough. You can cough till you vomit. You may or may not have a whoop, so if parents are waiting until they hear a whoop from their child, that may not happen," explained Griffin.
Griffin says Lewis and Clark cCounty has well over a dozen positive pertussis cases while Washington is at an epidemic level, with over 640 infected people.
If you think you have the disease, see your provider or public health office and if you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive, you should also see a doctor.
04/20/2012 04:52 PM by Melissa Rafferty (KPAX News)
HAMILTON- The pertussis outbreak is spreading in Ravalli County, nearly doubling in the past week.
One infant has now been hospitalized because of the contagious bacteria. Ravalli County Public Health Director Judy Griffin says she can't say which town the baby is from, only that the infant is from Ravalli County.
Griffin also told us Friday that whooping cough cases have jumped to 22 across the county. One adult and two children tested positive since Thursday and while most of the cases are in the Pinesdale area, she did say the other cases are throughout the county.
Whooping cough is highly contagious and the best way to keep it from spreading is by getting vaccinated. Over 50 cases of whooping cough have been reported in Montana so far this year.
04/20/2012 01:20 PM by Melissa Rafferty (KPAX News)
HAMILTON- County health officials report that a Ravalli County baby has been hospitalized after contracting pertussis.
Ravalli County Public Health Director Judy Griffin says she can't say what town the baby is from and would only tell us that the infant is from the Bitterroot.
Griffin also says the whooping cough cases have jumped from 15 to 19 across the county and while most of the cases are in the Pinesdale area, she added that other cases are being reported throughout the county.
Griffin says whooping cough it is highly contagious and the best way to prevent this outbreak from getting worse is by getting vaccinated.
Over 50 cases of pertussis have been reported to the state so far this year. Click here to learn more about whooping cough.
04/18/2012 09:32 AM by Melissa Rafferty (KPAX News)
HAMILTON- Ravalli County Public Health Department Director Judy Griffin reports there are now 15 confirmed cases of Pertussis in the Bitterroot Valley. Griffin says three new cases have popped up in the Corvallis School District and that all of the new cases are linked in someway to the community of Pinesdale.
One adult and eleven children who attend Pines Academy, a private school northwest of Hamilton, have all tested positive for the contagious bacteria. The Pinesdale children were not immunized for Pertussis.
The three Corvallis students who tested positive are at home recovering and the Corvallis school nurse is working with teachers and students who may have come in contact with the infected students and making sure they get tested.
Griffin added there is a good chance more students may test positive for whooping cough.
She told us that because of the outbreak, more senior citizens are getting vaccinated and they have really "stepped up", considering Medicare doesn't cover the T-DAP vaccine.
Click here to learn more about whooping cough.
04/12/2012 11:01 AM by Melissa Rafferty (KPAX News)
HAMILTON- The Ravalli County Public Health Department reports that 11 people, who all live in Pinesdale, have tested positive for whooping cough.
Ten of those cases come from kids who attend Pines Academy and one adult case has also been recorded.
The private school has been closed all this week because of the outbreak and school officials say they will address decide later this week whether they will reopen school next week.
Pertussis is a highly contagious bacteria that spreads by respiratory droplets and health officials say vaccination is the best way to prevent this outbreak from getting worse.
They urge adults to get the "T-DAP" shot which will prevent them from whooping cough and other serious viruses.
04/10/2012 09:17 PM by Breanna Roy (KPAX News)
PINESDALE- A whooping cough outbreak in a small Western Montana town has health officials on high alert, warning residents to update their immunizations.
Ravalli County health officials confirmed five cases of Pertussis among children in Pinesdale, northwest of Hamilton. The Pines Academy principal voluntarily closed school all week in hopes of stopping the spread of the extremely contagious bacteria.
Ravalli County Public Health Director Judy Griffin said vaccination is the best way to prevent this outbreak from getting worse.
"This might, you know, just be the tip of the iceberg," she said. "There might be waves of this as this progresses through the community. But what we're trying to do is stop the progression throughout the county."
Griffin said babies are particularly susceptible since they haven't had all their shots right away.
But health officials urge adults to get the T-DAP shot which will prevent them from whooping cough and other serious viruses.
04/10/2012 10:29 AM by Melissa Rafferty (KPAX News)
PINESDALE- The Pines Academy in Pinesdale will be closed all this week because of a Pertussis outbreak.
School officials tell Montana's News Station that a mother notified the school last week that her children tested positive for whooping cough.
School officials and Ravalli County Public Health Department Director Judy Griffin agreed to close the school to protect its students from the highly contagious bacteria.
Griffin says there are five confirmed cases of Pertussis.
School officials say students were off all last week for spring break and with the school being closed all this week, their school year will extend through the first week of June.
Some 200 students attend Pines Academy which is a private school that teaches kindergarten through sixth grade.
Pertussis is a contagious bacterial disease that affects the respiratory tract and can affect persons of all ages, but is most serious in infants and young children. Pertussis is spread by contact with respiratory droplets from an infected person through coughing.
Health officials encourage parents to have their children immunized.
04/09/2012 05:41 PM by Melissa Rafferty (KPAX News)
Numerous Pertussis cases in the Pinesdale area of Ravalli County forced school officials to close school Monday.
Ravalli County Public Health Director Judy Griffin says they have five confirmed cases of whooping cough.
Pertussis is a bacterial disease that affects the respiratory tract and affects persons of all ages, but is most serious in infants and young children.
It is spread by contact with the respiratory droplets from an infected person through coughing.
Griffin strongly encourages parents to have their children immunized.
11/09/2011 07:05 PM by Dennis Bragg (KPAX News)
MISSOULA- Missoula County health officials say there are still no confirmed pertussis cases in the Missoula area. But with the whooping cough outbreak in Bozeman they're continuing to watch the situation closely.
Nearly 40-pertussis cases have been reported in Gallatin County, many of them among students at Bozeman High School.
Cindy Hotchkiss, the infectious disease nurse with the Missoula City-County Health Department says while the outbreak hasn't spread to Missoula, people should still be taking precautions. That includes making sure their immunizations are up-to-date, especially if they're around small children.
"We want to make sure that all adults who are around any children, you know whether they are a daycare worker, they work in a school, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, are making they sure they have a pertussis-containing vaccine," explains Hotchkiss. "If you're not sure you've had one at this point, you can call your doctor and your doctor usually has a copy of your immunization records and they can tell you if you've had one."
Last winter cases were reported in Missoula, Lake and other counties in Western Montana. Missoula City-County Health Department says that's not unexpected, since pertussis tends to hit in "cycles" every few years.
"The last couple of years I think that it's been kind of an offshoot of the California outbreak. Which is why we saw it last winter. Why we're kind of expecting to see more of it this year. Probably part of why, you know, Bozeman is seeing it."
Hotchkiss reminds people without health coverage that they may be eligible for reduced fee TDaP immunizations directly through the health department.