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Missoula area whooping cough cases hit 100

Posted: 12:00 PM, May 13, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-13 14:00:09-04
Missoula City County Health Department
The Missoula City County Health Department at 301 West Alder Street in Missoula. (MTN News photo)

MISSOULA – Local health officials report that as of midday Monday the number of confirmed pertussis cases in Missoula County has reached 100.

The Missoula City-County Department had previously told MTN News that confirmed whooping cough cases had been reported in 18 schools from pre-schools to high schools.

Health Department officials have identified more than 1,000 close contacts but say that number is creeping up to about 2,000 close contacts.

The Health Department along with area school nurses continue to screen students and are working with families and employers who may have been in close contact with an infected person.

The ongoing Missoula County whooping cough outbreak has local health officials seeking some extra help.

The Missoula City-County Health Department is  looking for nurses to work short term  as the pertussis outbreak continues to expand.

The Florence Carlton School and Frenchtown School districts have also reported confirmed whooping cough cases.


Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a type of bacteria. It can affect people of all ages but can be very serious, even deadly, for babies less than a year old.

Pertussis symptoms can appear differently and be less severe in vaccinated individuals, but can still be contagious.

Symptoms

  • Pertussis is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe. After coughing fits, someone with pertussis often needs to take deep breaths, which result in a “whooping” sound.
  • Symptoms of pertussis usually develop within 5 to 10 days after you are exposed. Sometimes pertussis symptoms do not develop for as long as 3 weeks.
    Early Symptoms
  • The disease usually starts with cold-like symptoms and maybe a mild cough or fever. In babies, the cough can be minimal or nonexistent.
  • Early symptoms can last for 1 to 2 weeks and usually include runny nose, low-grade fever, mild, occasional cough, or Apnea – a pause in breathing (in babies)
  • Pertussis in its early stages appears to be nothing more than the common cold.

Later-stage Symptoms

  • After 1 to 2 weeks and as the disease progresses, the traditional symptoms of pertussis may appear and include fits of many, rapid coughs followed by a high-pitched “whoop” sound, throwing up during or after coughing fits, and exhaustion.

Pertussis in Babies

  • It is important to know that many babies with pertussis don’t cough at all. Instead, it causes them to stop breathing and turn blue.

How and When to Get Help

  • If you are experiencing symptoms of Pertussis, see your provider right away.
  • If you or a family member has been identified as exposed, you will receive instructions from the Health Department.
  • The best way to protect against pertussis is by getting vaccinated. Make sure that you and your family are up to date on your immunizations.
  • If you need information on your immunization status, contact your provider or the Health Department.

Need to get vaccinated?

The Missoula City-County Health Department, located at 301 West Alder St., carries the Pertussis vaccine (DTaP & Tdap) and can bill most insurance plans, including Medicaid. They offer a sliding fee scale for those who are uninsured or underinsured.

Call the Immunization Clinic at 406-258-3363 for more information. The clinic offers walk-in hours at the following times: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday
10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

If you have not been contacted by the Health Department, no action is needed at this point. If you have additional questions, please contact (406) 258-INFO.