MISSOULA – The number of confirmed pertussis cases rose to 24 on Wednesday.
The majority of whooping cough cases have been reported in the Missoula County Public School system.
Missoula Superintendent Mark Thane released a statement on Wednesday stating that individuals have tested positive for whooping cough at Hawthorne Elementary School, C.S. Porter Middle School, Big Sky High School, Hellgate High School and Sentinel High School.
Thane says that “at each school, we are identifying all close contacts of these students to determine any immediate action needed for families to get medical care for their students.”
The Missoula City-County Health Department, in conjunction with our nursing staff, investigates which people may have been exposed to pertussis — known as contacts — when a case has been confirmed.
A student is not considered a contact unless they have been in a close physical range for a long enough period of time to have been exposed, according to Thane.
It should be noted that students who have been vaccinated against pertussis may still be considered contacts because the vaccine is not 100% effective.
Thane notes that if a student has been identified as someone who has been exposed, the Missoula City-County Health Department will contact them and also send paperwork home explaining what action should be taken.
Anyone who is contacted by local health officials is asked to take the student to a local health care provider. Any student without a regular health care provider can go to any urgent care clinic in Missoula.
Thane noted that “if you have not been contacted by the Health Department, no action is needed at this point.”
He added MCPS is sharing this information “to calm the rumors and fears with some factual information.”
Additional cases of whooping cough have been also confirmed in the Lolo School District and the Florence Carlton Schoo District.