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Lewis and Clark Public Health tracking two contagious diseases in county

Posted: 10:43 AM, May 09, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-09 12:43:12-04

HELENA— Lewis and Clark Public Health officials are tracking not one, but two highly contagious diseases in the community.

On Wednesday, health experts said there have been more than a half dozen cases of Pertussis (whooping cough) in the county, and a norovirus outbreak that started last week and continues to spread.

Norovirus, commonly referred to as the stomach flu, is a highly contagious disease that is easily spread through direct contact from person to person. Symptoms for norovirus can include: vomiting, stomach pain, body aches and fever.

Laurel Riek, Environmental Health Specialist, said, “I guess the biggest issue when addressing norovirus is making sure we do everything we can to contain it. It’s a very contagious virus and it just takes staying home when you’re sick and washing your hands to keep that disease from spreading all over the community.”

There have been 17 lab confirmed cases of norovirus in the last several weeks, and 46 people reported with noroviral-like symptoms.

St. Peter’s Health has restricted visitors because of the spread of norovirus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), proper hygiene is the way to protect yourself and family, which includes getting into the habit of regularly washing your hands and avoiding preparation of food and meals while ill.

Public Health reported there are seven confirmed cases of whooping cough (also known as Pertussis) in the Lewis and Clark County area. Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a specific type of bacteria.

Primary symptoms are an uncontrollable, violent, cough which can be a very serious and even deadly in infants and children less than a year old. It is also deadly for those with low or poor immunity and the elderly.

Public Health Nurse Shelly Maag said, “Most people who have been vaccinated usually feel pretty good and they’ll get a cough that usually starts pretty mild and it just progresses and progresses, and progresses, and gets worse.”

For more information on the spread of these diseases in Lewis and Clark County, click here .

-Reported by Christine Sullivan/MTN News