Pertussis (whooping cough) is a respiratory disease caused by Bordetella pertussis bacteria. There are two kinds of vaccines used today to protect against whooping cough, which are the DTaP and the Tdap vaccines.
Signs & Symptoms
Symptoms of whooping cough usually develop within 5 to 10 days after you come into contact with the bacteria that cause it. Sometimes symptoms do not develop for as long as 3 weeks. Whooping cough may begin like a common cold, but unlike a cold, the coughing can last for weeks or months.
Early Symptoms: Stage 1 can last for 1 to 2 weeks and usually include:
- Runny or stuffed-up nose
- Low-grade fever (less than 100.4°F)
- Mild, occasional cough (babies do not do this)
- Apnea (life-threatening pauses in breathing) and cyanosis (turning blue or purple) in babies and young children.
Later Symptoms: Stage 2 can last 1 to 2 weeks after the first symptoms start, people with whooping cough may develop paroxysms—rapid, violent, and uncontrolled coughing fits. These coughing fits usually last 1 to 6 weeks but can last for up to 10 weeks.
Coughing fits can cause people to
- Make a high-pitched “whoop” sound when they are finally able to inhale at the end of a coughing fit
- Vomit during or after coughing fits
- Feel very tired after the fit, but usually seem well in-between fits
- Struggle to breathe
Recovery: Stage 3 the cough becomes milder and less common as you get better.
Coughing fits may stop for a while but can return if you get other respiratory infections. Coughing fits can return many months after the whooping cough illness started.
Protect Against Pertussis
Whooping cough (pertussis) can cause serious illness in people of all ages but is most dangerous for babies.
Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect against pertussis. Make sure you and your loved ones are up to date with your whooping cough vaccines.