(GREAT FALLS) While there have multiple rumors of a case of measles in Great Falls this winter, the Cascade City-County Health Department confirmed there has not been a positive test of the measles.
Cascade County Health Officer Tanya Houston said that if the rumors were true, they would do everything they can to inform and educate the public.
“I think that anytime there is an unknown and when it comes to an illness like this we are so fortunate that we don’t necessarily have to see or deal with on a daily basis, it can definitely cause a general sense of unease with people. That’s why we really endeavor as the health department to ensure we are putting out consistent information,” Houston said.
Symptoms for measles usually start with a fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes and sore throat. The individual will then develop a rash that can spread all over the body. The measles are highly contagious.
“We want help not just to educate people but also empower them. There are steps that they can take,” Houston said.
Houston said it’s important to stay up to date on the City-County Health Department’s Facebook page and website to check for releases and educational tools to prevent illnesses, such as the measles, from spreading.
“As measles were starting to become topics in the medical community, we did ensure that we were providing education and letting them know the status of how that illness is spreading across the nation or if we have seen any cases in Montana,” Houston said.
Houston said the number one thing she wants people to know is that if you do believe you have the measles, call your provider immediately for an over-the-phone assessment. Houston said that way the provider can prepare for you to come in and you will not be placed with other patients.
“We feel that we are as prepared as any agency could be to respond to something such as the unfortunate event that measles may come into our community. We have public health nurses who are well trained and we do exercises,” Houston said.
City-County health officials said there have been no cases of the measles in Montana since 1990.
“Really our role is to protect and promote the safety and health of our community. We do so in many ways. Some of that is doing the actual follow up if there is a suspect or confirmed case of many illnesses. And also doing that public education so that people have the right information and know what to do to protect themselves, their families and their community,” Houston said.