The number of pertussis patients continues to rise in Missoula County, according to the Missoula County Health Department.

Maura Jones with the Health Promotions Department provided the most recent numbers as of Thursday morning, May 9.

“I can let you know that we have had some additional cases of pertussis confirmed in the last 24 hours, and we are currently at 65 cases in the Missoula, Seeley Lake and Bitterroot area,” said Jones.” The public health nurses here at the health department have been out every day at schools, day cares, and churches interviewing folks who have had contact with a positive pertussis case and are searching down anyone who can possibly have been exposed.”

Earlier in the outbreak, KGVO spoke with Health Department Director Ellen Leahy, who said with a community-wide outbreak there are specific protocols required by the Centers for Disease Control.

“We simply notify, we check for symptoms, and if anyone in the family has symptoms we advise them to get in for healthcare,” she said. “Otherwise we instruct the family members on what the symptoms are and how and when they should go seek care.”

Leahy said she has received at least one call from an individual who sought care for what they suspected might be pertussis, but were not tested by their healthcare provider.

“There are some cases where the disease was not recognized or diagnosed,” she said. “One the one hand, when you’re in cough, flue and cold season that can be understandable, but as we investigate further we are certainly finding cases that are at the end of a couple of months of illness,” she said. “It would have been good to catch those cases earlier because the earlier you catch any case, the less transmission there will be.”

Anyone who believes that may have been exposed to pertussis should call the health department’s pertussis hotline at 258-INFO, that’s 258-4636.