MISSOULA (AP) — Missoula County has declared a community wide outbreak of whooping cough which has infected students at 16 schools. Lewis and Clark County, meanwhile, is trying to avoid further spread after six cases were diagnosed.
Health departments in both areas are identifying and contacting people who have come in contact with those who are sick.
The Missoula City-County Health Department reported five more cases since May 5, for a total of 52 in the past three weeks. Department Director Ellen Leahy says they have more than 100 tests pending.
Whooping cough is caused by a highly contagious bacteria and is named for the “whoop” sound people make when taking a deep breath after a coughing fit. It can take up to 21 days after exposure for symptoms to appear.