What is Whooping Cough? Whooping cough is a contagious disease which affects the respiratory system.
What causes Whooping Cough? Whooping cough is caused by a bacteria called Bordetella Pertussis. The bacteria gets into the body through the respiratory system and can be found in the mouth, nose and throat of the infected person.
Who gets Whooping Cough? Whooping cough can occur at any age. It is most dangerous and occurs most commonly in young children, yet it can cause severe coughing in adults that may last for many weeks to months. Whooping Cough is considered one of the most serious traditional childhood diseases.
How is Whooping Cough spread? Whooping Cough is spread by direct contact with discharges from the nose and throat of the victim, by airborne droplets from a cough or sneeze, or though contact with contaminated sheets or clothing. Whooping Cough is extremely contagious and people should avoid contact with infected people.
What are the symptoms? The cough begins as a mild upper respiratory infection. During the early stages, the symptoms are exactly like those of a common cold, including sneezing, runny nose and a mild cough. After two weeks, the disease enters its second stage. The cough becomes more severe and there are often episodes of rapid coughs followed by a high pitched whoop in children. Adults will rarely have a whoop sound in their cough. However, adults typically repeat the coughing episode which may be followed by gagging, vomiting, fainting or becoming short of breath. The last phase is a recovery period of up to a month during which the patient regains strength. Some other symptoms include:
  • vomiting
  • lack of oxygen
  • mild fever
  • spasms
  • persistent coughing
    For how long is Whooping Cough contagious? Whooping Cough can be spread from one person to another for three weeks after the onset of coughing. This can be reduced to only five days if the infected person is taking antibiotics.
    Treatment Whooping Cough requires prompt medical treatment; delay can lead to serious complications, particularly in children. There is no vaccine for adults, yet thankfully there are two types of vaccines for Whooping Cough for children, both of which are given for tetanus and diphtheria. The booster shots should be given at the each of 15 months and again at 4-6 years.

    An antibiotic called erythromycin can reduce the length and severity of the infection, especially if taken if the first ten days of illness. Codeine may be prescribed to relieve coughing. In severe cases, hospitalisation may be required to prevent dehydration and to permit quick administration of oxygen should the patient have difficulty breathing.
    PreventionThe DPT (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus) vaccine is given in five doses between the ages of two months and six years. The vaccine has been shown to be 90% effective when a child receives all doses; however, it does not provide permanent immunity. Five years after the final dose, a previously immunised child is no longer protected against the virus. Reimmunisation is not recommended because the vaccine can trigger severe side effects in older children and adults.
    Long term effects. If untreated, Whooping Cough can cause lung damage, bronchial damage and even death.
    Call your doctor if:

  • Your child has not been vaccinated against whooping cough and has recently been exposed to the illness.
  • You suspect your child has Whooping Cough, especially if the child has a cold and cough that has lasted a week or more.
  • Your child's lips turn blue and your child experiences periods of poor breathing, an indication of severe respiratory distress.

    References Cited:

  • Per*tus"sis (?), n. [NL., fr. L. per through, very + tussis cough.] Med.

    The whooping cough.


    © Webster 1913.

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