Missoula County has seen a spike in the number of pertussis cases recently.

"We have seen about five cases of whooping cough in the past two weeks," said Missoula City-County Health Department Infectious Disease Supervisor Cindy Hotchkiss.  "A couple of those have resulted in us having to interview about 200 possible contacts."

Despite the reason rise, Hotchkiss said pertussis cases are unusually low this year.

"We have been seeing increased pertussis activity in Montana for the last couple of years," Hotchkiss said. "But in Missoula county, things have actually been fairly quiet. We've been pretty lucky not to see it much up until now, we've seen it in very small numbers, and even five is not very much compared to surrounding counties."

Two of the cases have been reported to have occurred at Sentinel high school, but Hotchkiss says health department rules prevent her from disclosing which institutions have had infections to the general public.

Pertussis is usually characterized by violent coughing that is uncontrollable. The coughing is often followed by deep breaths from the sufferer, the sound of which gives the disease the alternative name of whooping cough.

The Missoula health department recommends vaccination and antibiotics to prevent or fight the disease.

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