Officials at the Missoula City County Health Department are breathing a sigh of relief, as the numbers of confirmed cases of pertussis are slowing dramatically.

Director Ellen Leahy drew the comparison from a week ago to Friday, May 24.

“In this last few days the number of new cases has dropped from about six per day to just one per day for the last several days,” said Leahy. “We’re encouraged by that. Of course, but we’re still doing a lot of follow-up work the known cases.”

Leahy contrasted the number of double digit confirmed cases from previous weeks to the past few days.

“We have 134 cases total as of Thursday night, and going into the week we had 125, so the number of new cases is slowing down,” she said. “This is a very encouraging sign, but there is a bit of a caveat and that is that we changed our protocol again going into the week. Our follow-up is still very assertive, but our case finding is less so, so that may affect it a little bit but when you look at the current epidemic from the beginning you see kind of a peak area for a couple of weeks, and now you’re starting to see it going down.”

There were concerns that the pertussis vaccine's effectiveness was beginning to wane, however with patient numbers dropping, healthcare officials are more optimistic that the outbreak may soon be over.

At one point, the Health Department had brought in 10 extra nurses to assist with the pertussis outbreak.