Pertussis in Montana

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection. The most commonly recognized symptom of pertussis is a violent, uncontrollable cough. After a coughing fit, someone with pertussis may need to take deep breaths, which result in a “whooping” sound. Click here to visit a website where you can hear what whooping cough sounds like.

Pertussis is present in Montana, and the number of reported cases in 2012 is markedly higher than last year at this same time. Since January 1st of this year, 27 jurisdictions have reported a total of 527 cases of pertussis in Montana, compared to 129 cases that were reported last year at this time. For more information on the incidence of reported cases in Montana, please click here.

To date, Cascade County has had 19 cases of pertussis. It is important to make certain that people are up-to-date on their immunizations. This vaccination isn’t just for babies; it’s important to make sure everyone in the family is current.

Vaccination is the best way to prevent pertussis. Vaccines for pertussis are available for infants, children, teens and adults. Vaccine protection for pertussis does fade over time; the majority of Montana’s 2012 pertussis cases have been reported in school age children 5-18 years old. This highlights the importance of ensuring that boosters are received. Your health care provider or a Public Health Nurse with CCHD’s Immunization program can help you determine whether or not you should receive a pertussis booster and can also tell you more about the different vaccines available to prevent pertussis.

Pertussis commonly affects infants and young children and can be especially serious, even fatal, for babies less than one year old. Getting vaccinated will not only protect you, but will protect those around you from pertussis. This is especially important for parents and caregivers of infants.

Learn more about pertussis and vaccination by calling CCHD at 454-6950 and asking to speak with a Public Health Nurse. You can also download our printable fact sheet or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).