Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

Pertussis is a contagious bacterial disease that affects the respiratory tract.  It is also known as whooping cough, so named for the loud crowing or "whooping" sound created by the struggle to inhale air.  Although it can affect people of all ages, it is most serious in infants and young children.  It is spread from person to person through coughing.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Mild, irritating cough  for 1-2 weeks
  • Progresses to explosive coughing that can interrupt eating, breathing, and sleeping and is commonly followed by vomiting and exhaustion (this may last several weeks to months)
  • Symptoms usually appear 7-20 days after exposure.  Older children, adolescents, and adults usually have milder symptoms without the typical "whoop".