According to this report, Montana ranks among the top 10 states in terms of the rates of pertussis. Recently, the Central Montana Health District (CMHD) has received reports of four pertussis cases in Fergus County.

The Central Montana Health District Public Health office is working closely with area partners, including the Lewistown school system, Central Montana Medical Center, the Central Montana Community Health Center and the Fergus County Nurses Office, as well as the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, to identify any additional pertussis cases and ensure their evaluation and treatment.

Pertussis is a contagious respiratory disease that, in almost all cases, can be effectively treated by a health care professional. Pertussis is spread through the air by cough, and transmission is dependent on the closeness and length of contact. Infants, pregnant women in their third trimester, and those with immune system disorders such as moderate to severe asthma, are at the greatest risk of complications from pertussis. Infants should be kept away from anyone diagnosed with pertussis or identified as close contact of someone who has been diagnosed. Infants with any coughing illness should be promptly evaluated by their doctor.

"Pertussis is a serious disease, but one that can be treated effectively," said Michele Foy, Health Officer with the Central Montana Health District. "Our number one priority is to identify possible cases to contain the spread of the disease and to help parents protect their children."

Pertussis starts with a runny or stuffed up nose, sneezing, and a mild cough. After one to two weeks, the coughing, which can be severe, starts. People with pertussis can cough very hard, over and over. When they gasp for breath after a coughing fit, they make a ‘whooping’ sound. Babies may not make this sound. These coughing fits make it hard to breathe, eat, drink or sleep. They can also be followed by vomiting or turning blue. The cough may be worse at night and cough medicines usually do not help alleviate the cough. There is generally no fever and the cough may continue even after treatment and last up to six weeks. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should contact their health care provider.

The most effective way to prevent pertussis is through vaccination. Pertussis-containing vaccine is available for persons over the age of six weeks, and is included in the CDC’s recommended routine childhood immunization schedule. It is important to know that no vaccine is 100 percent effective and no community is 100 percent vaccinated. However, vaccines are the most effective tool we have to reduce transmission of pertussis and that even immunized children who get sick tend to have less severe symptoms than children who are not immunized. It is very important for children and adults to be fully immunized against pertussis to help protect those infants and young children who have not yet received the full series of vaccinations. If you have questions regarding your immunization status or the immunization status of your child, contact your immunization provider.

The Fergus County Nurses Office has pertussis-containing vaccine available in their office in the Fergus County Courthouse. For more information or to schedule an appointment for vaccination, contact the Fergus County Nurses Office at 406-535-7433.

Additional information related to pertussis can be found on the Central Montana Health District Public Health - click here to print - or you may call the Health District public health office at 406-535-3983.

General Information

Pertussis (Whooping Cough) - What You Need To Know
(Centers for Disease Control)
Updated Pertussis Activity in Montana
Immunization Related Links (Montana Department of Public Health Human Services)

Fact Sheets/Resources

Information for Schools on Pertussis  
Pertussis Fact Sheet for Clinicians
A Quick Look at Using Tdap Vaccine
Pertussis: Summary of DTap and Tdap Vaccine Recommendations 
Whooping Cough (Pertussis) Information for Parents  
Facts about Pertussis (Detailed Information from the IAC)
Kid Friendly Fact Sheet

Hear What Pertussis Sounds Like