Algoma Public Health
- Whooping Cough (Pertussis)
Whooping Cough (Pertussis)
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
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