Health department sees uptick in pertussis cases

October 6, 2018

The Flathead City-County Health Department has received a significant uptick in pertussis cases lately, and has issued a statement urging community members to be vigilant of pertussis illness symptoms, to seek medical care when necessary and to take the proper hygienic practices to prevent transmission. The Health Department also encouraged people to ensure they and their family are fully immunized against pertussis.

The department said it had received reports of 17 cases of pertussis since the beginning of the year, with eight of those cases occurring in the last three months. Though all known contacts of the cases - mostly school-age children, but ranging in age from infant to adult - there was still concern due to this significant increase in pertussis within a short period.

Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease that usually starts with cold-like symptoms with runny nose or congestion, sneezing and maybe mild cough or fever. Severe coughing can being after one to two weeks. Anyone can get pertussis, but it can be very dangerous for babies and people with weakened immune systems.

Persons with pertussis should not go to daycare, school, work or public gatherings for at least five days after starting an antibiotic. All household and close contacts including classmates should be treated with medication at the same time as the ill person to prevent the disease from spreading.

The department urged 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 751-8110 or your medical provider for more information.

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