May 11, 2012 6:44 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.