Missoula councilwoman warns of whooping cough

Missoula councilwoman warns of whooping cough


Don't risk a cough that cracks a rib.

A whooping cough outbreak has hit Missoula, and Councilwoman Pam Walzer said Monday night that booster shots are in order, especially for folks who care for children.

"The disease is very dangerous to infants," Walzer said. "You can have months-long health effects among people of many ages - including you, including me."

She made her comments at a regular meeting of the Missoula City Council, where councilors also heard from the Boy Scouts, talked about the Super Bowl, and awarded a $527,733 construction contract to L.S. Jensen for the Milwaukee Trail extension between Russell and Reserve streets.

Councilwoman Marilyn Marler said she's a pedestrian in the part of town where the new trail will be built, and she imagines the path will see much use once it's built, funneling people to the Good Food Store for groceries, for instance, and adding a mile route for recreation.

"I'm sure a lot of runners will use it," Marler said.

During her comments, Councilwoman Stacy Rye gave a nod to her former state of Wisconsin and the Green Bay Packers for their Super Bowl win.

"It's not so much a team in Wisconsin as it is a religion," Rye said.

Said Councilman Ed Childers: "I would think that any truly ardent Packers fan would be wearing a cheesehead hat this evening."

Alas, the only visible hats looked to be for warmth, not for fans.

As for the whooping cough, in her comments, Walzer said the Missoula City-County Health Department has documented 25 cases of the respiratory infection called pertussis since November. She noted Flathead County also is in the midst of an outbreak.

Most cases in Missoula this year hit young children, including two babies who needed to be hospitalized, Walzer said. She said sometimes - but not always - a tetanus shot includes a vaccine for whooping cough so people should check their records.

Marler said last year, a healthy and strong friend of hers caught pertussis and suffered for months.

"She was sick and recovering from six to nine months. She coughed so hard she broke almost all her ribs," Marler said.

Despite the blowing snow and weather advisory against travel, a troop of Boy Scouts descended into Council Chambers as planned. The scouts led the Pledge of Allegiance and heard Mayor John Engen proclaim this a week to honor the Boy Scouts of America celebrating 101 years of Scouting in 2011.

Also at the meeting, Councilors Jon Wilkins and Marler said their thoughts were with Councilwoman Lyn Hellegaard and her family. Hellegaard lost her father over the weekend, Wilkins said.

In other business, the council also voted to increase Parks and Recreation Department fees.

Reporter Keila Szpaller can be reached at 523-5262, keila.szpaller@missoulian.com or on MissoulaRedTape.com.


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