A case of pertussis, or whooping cough, has been confirmed in the Bigfork School District.
An alert message was sent out to parents Thursday afternoon through the district's new AlertNow Notification System to inform them of the occurrence and of a letter sent home with students, Superintendent Cynthia Clary said.
“We are in communication with the county health department office to make sure we are doing everything possible to keep students safe,” Clary said in the alert message.
The Flathead City-County Health Department confirmed earlier in the day Thursday that a total of four cases of whooping cough have been confirmed in the county.
Pertussis is an highly contagious upper respiratory infection that often starts as a common cold and then worsens within 10 to 14 days to cause a cough which can become severe to the point of vomiting or loss of consciousness.
The disease can be treated, if identified early, with antibiotics. Those who suspect symptoms of pertussis should consult their health care provider.
Prevention methods include covering coughs and making sure hands are washed regularly.
“The district continues to emphasize the importance of proper hygiene practices with our students, faculty and staff,” Clary wrote in the letter home to parents. “Additionally, we continue to practice heightened cleaning and sanitizing of district facilities in an attempt to prevent the spread of germs and bacteria in our classrooms, buildings and school buses.”
According to the health department, vaccination is a key way to prevent the illness and others like it. Though it won’t be effective for two weeks, the health department will be offering a new combination tetanus, diphtheria and acellular vaccine at Bigfork Elementary School on from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 7. This vaccination is recommended for use in all 10 to 65 year olds. The cost is $15, but no one will be refused due to inability to pay. Parental consent forms for students are available at the school office.
For more information call the health department at 751-8110 or a health care provider.