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3 whooping cough cases reported in Helena schools

2011-11-17T00:10:00Z 3 whooping cough cases reported in Helena schoolsBy ANGELA BRANDT Independent Record Helena Independent Record
November 17, 2011 12:10 am  • 

Three cases of the highly contagious whooping cough have been confirmed in Lewis and Clark County. These cases were found within public schools in the area, according to officials.

The bacterial infection, also known as pertussis, is more dangerous in infants who have not received vaccination to the disease, which causes uncontrollable coughing, and also those with compromised immune systems such as people with chronic illnesses, said Mike Henderson, public health nurse with the Lewis and Clark City-County Health Department.

This outbreak, which has affected at least three counties in Montana, highlights the importance of vaccinations, Henderson said.

Pertussis is a serious infection, which can easily spread from person to person through coughs and sneezes. It is very important to cover one’s mouth when coughing, according to Henderson. 

“Common-sense measures can keep disease from spreading,” he said. “Stay home or keep your child home until you see your health care provider. The longer pertussis goes untreated, the more it spreads.”

Antibiotics are used to treat the disease.

The frequent washing of hands also helps quell the spread of the infection. People with the illness often have severe coughing attacks that can last months.

“If you or your child has been coughing for two weeks with no improvement, be suspicious,” Henderson said. “If there’s vomiting associated with the cough or the coughing gets worse at night, consider that it may be pertussis.”

One confirmed case of whooping cough was in a Helena High School student, and parents of classmates who sit within an arm’s length of the student were contacted and told they should put their teenager on prophylactic antibiotics, even if the teen showed no symptoms.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control recommends children get five immunizations for full protection and teens get a booster shot called a Tdap.

Officials say it’s a good idea for adults to get their vaccinations updated when they get a tetanus shot, which is recommended every 10 years. Vaccination is especially vital for those who have regular contact with babies.


Reporter Angela Brandt: 447-4078 or

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(1) Comments

  1. PatrickThomas
    Report Abuse
    PatrickThomas - November 17, 2011 10:22 am
    The vaccine is completely useless.

    "A collection of mainstream news reports and studies exploding the whooping cough vaccine myth"

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