KALISPELL – Local health officials are seeing more cases of pertussis cases in northwest Montana.
The Flathead City-County Health Department reports they have received reports of 17 cases of pertussis since the beginning of the year, with eight of those cases occurring in the last three months.
Although most of the cases are school-aged children, the health department is seeing some cases varying in age between infant and adult.
Although all known contacts of these cases have been contacted by health officials who add in a news release that due to this significant increase in pertussis within a short period, there is still concern of pertussis circulating in the community.
The Health Department is asking community members to be vigilant of pertussis illness symptoms and to seek medical care when necessary, as well as take the proper hygienic practices to prevent transmission.
Folks are also encouraged to ensure they and their family are fully immunized against pertussis.
Individuals who have been exposed and are exhibiting symptoms of pertussis should stay home from school or work until they can seek medical advice and be tested for pertussis.
The Health Department urges those who have had a cough lasting more than one week to consult their health care provider.
The Flathead City-County Health Department notes the following:
“Pertussis (whooping cough) is a highly contagious respiratory disease that is spread through the air when an infected person sneezes or coughs. The disease usually starts with cold-like symptoms with runny nose or congestion, sneezing, and maybe mild cough or fever. After 1 to 2 weeks and as the illness progresses, severe coughing begins. Pertussis can cause violent and rapid coughing, over and over, until the air is gone from the lungs. When there is no more air in the lungs, the person is forced to inhale with a loud “whooping” sound. This extreme coughing can cause the person to throw up, turn blue, and have difficulty catching their breath. Anyone can get pertussis, but it can be very dangerous for babies and people with weakened immune systems.
Vaccine is available for individuals 2 months of age and older. Contact the Health Department at (406) 751-8110 or your medical provider for more information.