MISSOULA — Local health officials report that the pertussis outbreak that first surfaced in Missoula County last year is continuing.
The Missoula City-County Health Department reports that as of Thursday, there are 169 confirmed whooping cough cases.
Health Promotion Director Cindy Farr notes that while new pertussis cases slowed down in recent months, it did not go away with an average of two cases per week being reported throughout the summer.
Farr says that cases have been reported across all ages, from infant to adults and in both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. She added that it's important to understand how to help stop the spread of pertussis with school now back in session.
Farr noted in a news release that if you or your child are identified as a person who has been exposed to a positive case of pertussis, you will be contacted by the Missoula City-County Health Department or staff at your child’s school.
“We know that this outbreak has been difficult for families and schools. We appreciate the help and understanding from parents, school staff and health care providers as we are entering into another school year," Farr said. "Your continued cooperation and vigilance is essential to reducing its spread especially to high risk individuals in our community."
Tips to help prevent the spread of whooping cough:
- Wash your hands
- Cover your cough
- Stay home if you are sick and keep your children home if they are sick.
- If you are experiencing symptoms of pertussis, please seek medical care.
General pertussis information:
- Pertussis symptoms include runny nose, sneezing, mild to severe cough, and a low fever.
- Pertussis is dangerous for high risk groups which are infants, pregnant women, and people who are immunocompromised.
- Symptoms in infants are often atypical and severe, including difficulty breathing and blue lips.
- People who have been vaccinated generally have less severe symptoms, but they can still spread the disease.
- The classic “whoop” cough associated with pertussis is often absent in vaccinated individuals and infants.
- Health care providers can test for pertussis and effectively treat it with antibiotics.
- Anyone who has been exposed to someone who has pertussis should watch for symptoms and seek medical care if symptoms appear.