Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

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Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

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What is it?

  • A very contagious (easy to catch) disease of the respiratory tract, caused by bacteria found in the nose and throat of a person who is infected
  • Young infants are at highest risk and have the most serious complications

 What are the symptoms?

  • Starts with a mild occasional cough which last 1-2 weeks (early stage)
  • Progresses to violent coughing spells which can last 1-2 months or longer
  • Coughing spells begin very abruptly and often end with vomiting.
  • A high pitched whoop sound may be heard with the next breath of air

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How quickly do symptoms develop?

  • Usually within 9-10 days, can range from 6-20 days after contact

 How is it spread?

  • It is spread when a person with pertussis coughs or sneezes the germ into the air, where other people can breathe it in

 How long is it contagious?

  • Very contagious in the early stage and for 3 weeks after coughing spells develop
  • No longer contagious after 5 days of treatment; child may return to school or daycare

 How is it treated?

  • With a prescribed antibiotic medication
  • The medication shortens the period of contagiousness but does not stop the cough unless given in the early stage of the disease

 What can you do?

  • To protect yourself and your child against whooping cough, ensure that all are up to date with pertussis immunization

 

Date of Creation: June 1, 2015

Last Modified: June 1, 2015