The Missoula City County Health Department does not do the pertussis testing. The State of Montana Heath Department does all testing and reports the results back to the Missoula Health Department. 

The Missoula County Pertussis outbreak continues to expand with several new confirmed cases every day, according to Health Department Director Ellen Leahy.

“The score today is 125 cases since the beginning of the outbreak,” said Leahy. “Of course, we know the disease is out there but I can tell you that we’re also doing a lot of case finding and health care workers are assisting in that case finding so that we can identify them and cut down on exposures.”

Leahy said that most of the cases are found within the setting of Missoula’s schools.

“We have cases outside of schools,” she said. “We’ve had cases in other social settings and groups, but when we look at the average age of all the cases to date is running between 16 and 17, so that does place it in those teenage years and they are still in school.”

Leahy said there is no way of predicting when the pertussis outbreak might end, but the summer break from school can only help.

“I think we’ll be able to cut down on that close-range contagion they everyone is experiencing within the schools when people are in close contact all day long,” she said. “What that will do for this particular outbreak, where you don’t ever want to say it’s going to be over, but I know that some of our control methods will be able to change because we won’t have so any kids in that closed environment,” she said.

Leahy said the Health Department has hired ten new nurses to assist in the testing of potential pertussis victims.

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