The Flathead City-County Health Department announced Wednesday that there have been eight reported cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, at an elementary school in Columbia Falls and the Swan River school east of Bigfork. The bacterial disease can be spread through direct contact with people who are infected.
“We are working closely with school personnel and medical providers to identify contacts to these cases and to refer symptomatic individuals for testing,” said Community Health Services Director Jody White.
County officials were urging people who have had a persistent cough for more than a week to seek medical attention. Symptoms usually appear five to 10 days after exposure, but can take as long as 21 days. Symptoms are similar to that of the common cold but can get worse and lead to coughing spells that end in vomiting. Those who have those symptoms are encouraged to stay home from school and work.
Whooping cough can be prevented with a Bordetella pertussis vaccine. If someone is being treated for whooping cough, it’s also recommended that the people who they come in contact the most – be it roommates or classmates – also be treated. For more information call (406) 751-8110.
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