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The original item was published from 10/16/2014 11:34:30 AM to 11/7/2014 12:05:01 AM.

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Posted on: October 16, 2014

[ARCHIVED] Health department working to prevent spread of whooping cough in Butte-Silver Bow

Twelve cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, have been confirmed over the past month in Butte-Silver Bow, and county Health Department officials continue to work with confirmed cases and their close contacts to prevent spreading of the disease.

Whooping cough can be a very serious disease, particularly for infants less than one year of age. The ages of those affected to date in Butte-Silver Bow range from 13 to 32 years, health department officials said.

“Whooping cough is spread by direct contact with respiratory, oral or nasal secretions from a symptomatic patient, direct face-to-face contact with a symptomatic person or by sharing confined space in close proximity for a prolonged period of time with a symptomatic person,” public health nurse Karen Maloughney said Thursday.

Pertussis starts with symptoms similar to a common cold. Children suffering from whooping cough often develop coughing fits, especially at night, giving a high-pitched “whoop” sound. The “whoop” is a sign that the person is struggling to breathe between coughs.

For an example of how pertussis sounds, visit the PKids Online website at:

“The disease can be very severe, and, although deaths are rare, they do occur, especially in infants less than 1 year of age,” Maloughney said. “Adults and children 7 years and older usually develop a much milder form of pertussis.”

Anyone suspected of having whooping cough or who is exposed to a person with the disease will be contacted by Health Department staff for questioning and possibly sent for evaluation by a physician.

“It is especially important that parents monitor their children for cough-like illness and ideally withhold them from school until it has been determined that they do not have whooping cough,” Maloughney said.

Making sure that children receive all their immunizations on time is the best way to control pertussis, Maloughney said. Children should receive four doses of DTaP (Diptheria/Tetanus/Pertussis) vaccine by 19 months of age and an additional dose of DTaP before they start school. In addition, a Td (Tetanus/Diptheria) booster is required before entry into the 7th grade. However, the Tdap (Tetanus/Diptheria/Pertussis) vaccine can be given in place of the Td and will add protection against pertussis.

Parents are urged to check their children’s immunization records to ensure they have received all of their shots. If they are not sure their children are completely immunized, they should contact their family physician or the Health Department at 406-497-5086.

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