Montana Public Radio

Ellen Leahy


Senior citizens are particularly susceptible to COVID-19, the infectious disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Those caring for the elderly now have to be even more careful to avoid inadvertently harming the same people they’re trying to help. Sometimes that’s easier said than done.

How do you feed Missoula’s elderly while also not creating the breeding grounds for a viral outbreak?

Missoula City-County Health Dept Director Ellen Leahy at whiteboard, and COVID-19 Incident Commander Cindy Farr, during a March 15, 2020 briefing on coronavirus cases in the county.
Edward O'Brien / Montana Public Radio

Missoula County health officials continue their intensive investigation into the first two local COVID-19 cases announced Saturday evening.

The two patients are now isolated in their homes. Now health officials need to track down who the two have recently been near. And they could use some help.

The novel coronavirus.
Centers For Disease Control

There are currently no reported cases of the new coronavirus in Montana. This, however, may only be temporary. State public health officials say they’re preparing for the worst.

Vape device

A statewide temporary ban on the sale of flavored vaping products is now in place after a last-minute legal move from store owners failed to block it. The ban runs until April 16.

This graph illustrates the number of pertussis cases reported to CDC from 1922 to 2017. Following the introduction of pertussis vaccines in the 1940s when case counts frequently exceeded 100,000 cases per year, reports declined dramatically to fewer than
Centers For Disease Control (PD)

Whooping cough continues to be a problem in Missoula County, but local health officials think the worst may finally be behind them.

As of Tuesday, a total of 141 whooping cough – also known as pertussis – cases have been reported in Missoula County since the outbreak started back in mid-April.

Pertussis progression.
Centers For Disease Control (PD)

Missoula County health officials are investigating an outbreak of whooping cough that has sickened at least six Missoulians. Local health officials have identified hundreds more who may have been exposed to the contagious respiratory disease.

As dense smoke from regional wildfires spread through communities across western Montana last summer, public health agencies faced an indoor problem, too: Residents suddenly needed filters to clean the air inside homes and public spaces, but there was no obvious funding source to pay for it.

Ellen Leahy, the health officer in charge of the Missoula City-County Health Department, says in the past, when wildfire smoke polluted the air outside, nobody really talked about air filters.

Amy Cilimburg, the director of Climate Smart Missoula, helped Seeley Lake residents Joy and Don Dunagan get a HEPA air filter through a partnership with the Missoula City-County Health Department.
Nora Saks

This past wildfire season, unprecedented amounts of wildfire smoke in communities across western Montana threw public health agencies a curveball.

Yesterday, we dove into what we know and are still learning about the long term health impacts of exposure to wildfire smoke. Today, we’re looking at what it would take to provide filtered air to the most vulnerable Montanans.

A Missoula woman has Montana’s first diagnosed case of the Zika virus.
File Photo(PD)

Audio Pending...

A Missoula woman has Montana’s first diagnosed case of the Zika virus. Missoula City/County Health Department officials say that Zika diagnosis was confirmed on Thursday.

Missoula City Website

The news that a nurse has contracted the first-ever case of Ebola transmitted in the United States could make it more likely that any future Ebola patients in the United States might come to Missoula. That nurse in Dallas became infected while caring for a patient from west Africa.