Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
History of Pertussis
Signs and Symptoms of Pertussis
- Runny nose
- Mild cough
- Pause in breathing in infants (apnea)
After 1 to 2 weeks severe coughing begins. More serious problems typically seen in children and babies include:
- Persistant, severe coughing
- Gagging/gasping for breath after a coughing fit. This is where the "whooping" sound comes from.
- Difficulty breathing, eating, drinking, or sleeping due to coughing fits
- Vomiting after coughing fits
- Turning blue while coughing due to lack of oxygen
*Coughing fits can last for 10 weeks, and sometimes happen again the next time the child has a respiratory illness (CDC).
- Low blood pressure
- Brain damage, if breathing difficulties prevent enough oxygen from getting to the brain
- Weight loss due to excessive vomiting
Babies under 1 year who get whooping cough are likely to end up in the hospital, and a few even die from the disease.
Worldwide, pertussis is one of the leading causes of vaccine-preventable deaths, mostly due to lack of vaccination. The incidence rate of pertussis is highest among unvaccinated babies in developing countries.