MISSOULA — A few months parts of Western Montana were dealing with a whooping cough outbreak.
The Missoula City-County Health Department even had to hire extra nurses to handle the rising number of cases. The outbreak is continuing with local health officials saying that the numbers are still rising.
Local health officials said back in the Spring that they expected the pertussis cases to slow down during summer break. But now, they say that even more cases are coming in -- with the most recent one reported Monday.
"There’s a little bit of a concern that it’s still around, and that we have had some cases," said Cindy Farr with the Missoula City-County Health Department. "More of our cases that we’ve seen through the summer that were not directly linked to other cases of pertussis which is telling me that we still are seeing it in the community."
MTN News reported in May that there were 125 confirmed cases of pertussis in the Missoula area. That number has since risen to 160 cases. Farr says they hired extra nurses to go to schools this spring -- and she’s hoping they won’t have to do that again.
"A lot of kids are going in for their sports physicals right now, so this might be a good time to chat with your doctor about whooping cough," Farr advised. "And make sure that you’re aware of what symptoms to watch out for in case we do see a resurgence of it once the school year starts."
Farr says babies should be vaccinated, and pregnant women, people between the ages of 10 and 12, and adults should receive the TDAP booster. She added that close contacts are the highest when children are in school. The TDAP vaccine takes two to three weeks to become effective, so she’s encouraging parents to bring their children in before classes start back up.
You can contact the local health department at (406) 258-3363 for more information about immunizations. Vaccinations are available at the Missoula health department on West Alder Street.
Most insurance plans are accepted, and they offer a sliding scale if you’re uninsured.