As the Missoula City County Health Department continues to battle the pertussis outbreak in the county, officials say as of Tuesday that 975 tests have been submitted and 103 are positive for a 10.5 percent positivity rate.

Director Ellen Leahy said the testing continues with each new positive case.

“Well, we’re at 103 confirmed cases so far as of today, so that’s quite a number,” said Leahy. “We have about 58 tests in the queue pending over at the state lab, so we’ll learn more about those later today.”

Leahy said with so many positive cases and nearly a thousand people tested, officials are running into an unusual phenomenon.

“In some of the places, some of the schools where this has been going on now for almost four weeks, there will be individual students or teachers who were exposed during the first go around, were screened and perhaps followed up upon, but unfortunately can be exposed now another time,” she said. “That’s where we are with this outbreak. The idea that you just keep giving antibiotics is not generally a good clinical plan, so we’ll be speaking with the State Health Department Epidemiology Group as well as our own medical adviser about the best course of action if someone is exposed a second time.”

Leahy also confirmed that each person tested is being charged for the test either through their health insurance, Medicaid or Medicare because neither Missoula County nor the State of Montana is picking up the cost of each individual test.

People who have been exposed and have symptoms must stay away from school or work and avoid contact with others until test results come back negative, or until they have completed five days of antibiotics. It is especially important to stay away from people in high-risk groups: infants, pregnant women and anyone who is immunocompromised.

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