What is whooping cough?

Whooping cough is a highly contagious disease caused by a bacterial infection of the respiratory tract. Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. The hallmark symptoms of whooping cough are violent coughing fits followed by a whooping sound made as a person gasps for air.

Whooping cough is highly preventable through vaccination. In the early 20th century, whooping cough was a leading cause of illness and death in infants and children, but it declined dramatically after the invention of the whooping cough vaccine. Recently, however, the incidences of whooping cough have been on the rise in the United States (Source: CDC).

Whooping cough can be serious and result in life-threatening complications, such as permanent lung and brain damage, especially in infants less than six months of age.

Seek prompt medical care if you, or your infant, have been exposed to whooping cough, experience a cough that does not go away, or have violent episodes of coughing.


SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of whooping cough?

The symptoms of whooping cough typically begin seven to 10 days after becoming infected with the bacteria that cause whooping cough, although the incubation period can last several weeks. This means that you can be infected with the bacteria that cause whooping cough, Bordetella pertussis, and not develop symptoms for several weeks. An infected person is most contagious during the early ... Read more about whooping coughsymptoms

CAUSES

What causes whooping cough?

Whooping cough is caused by an infection of the respiratory tract by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. Whooping cough spreads from person to person when someone with the disease coughs, talks, or sneezes. This shoots droplets contaminated with B. pertussis bacteria into the air where they can be inhaled by others. Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a highly contagious disease. An ... Read more about whooping coughcauses

TREATMENTS

How is a whooping cough treated?

Treatment of whooping cough is most effective when started early in the disease process, preferably before the onset of any violent coughing attacks. Treatment of whooping cough includes:

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 30, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Infections and Contagious Diseases


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