Montana county experiences heightened number of whooping cough cases

Health officials in Flathead County, Montana, recently reported five additional cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the county to 13.

Four of the newly confirmed cases were found in middle school students, while the fifth is an elderly familial contact of one of the cases. Additional tests are currently pending to determine if the disease has continued to spread, KAJ 18 reports.

A confirmed case of pertussis at Kalispell Middle School prompted health department officials to cancel a sixth grade concert on Thursday to prevent the disease from spreading. Nine students have been infected by pertussis in the Ruder Elementary and Glacier Gateway Elementary schools in Columbia Falls, the Swan River School near Bigfork and Kalispell Middle School.

"Students that have not had their booster are being excluded from school until they have had a booster," Darlene Schottle, the superintendent of Kalispell Schools, said, according to KAJ 18. "And we are also working with the Flathead County Health Department to ensure that anyone who has come into contact with someone who has a known case of pertussis is being notified."

Health officials have advised anyone with pertussis not to go to public gatherings, work, school or day care until at least five days after beginning antibiotic treatment. Those with a cough lasting over one week should consult their health care provider. The pertussis vaccine is available to people over the age of two months.