Whooping Cough (Pertussis)


This is an infection of the lining of your airways. It is highly contagious. It is most common in young children who have not been fully vaccinated and in people who have not received booster shots.


Whooping cough is caused by a bacterium called "Bordetella pertussis." It is spread through the air by the coughs and sneezes of an infected person. It travels on droplets of moisture that you can inhale.


Symptoms usually begin about seven to ten days after you are infected. It begins like a common cold, with runny nose, congestion, sneezing, mild coughing and fever. But typically, within a week or two, you begin to have severe coughing attacks. You cough over and over again. You may inhale with a distinctive "whooping" sound. You may cough so hard you vomit. However, not everyone experiences these severe coughing attacks. Some people develop a milder, persistent cough. Some infants who have an infection don't develop a cough at all, but they may struggle to breathe.

Prevention and Treatment

Whooping cough is prevented with a vaccine. It is given in a series of injections. Doctors recommend that these are begun during infancy. Booster doses are recommended throughout your life. People who do get a whooping cough infection can be treated with antibiotics. Infants often need to be hospitalized. Your healthcare provider can create a care plan that is right for your needs.