"Whooping Cough"

by Sophia Schwab


The Pertussis disease or "Whooping Cough" is caused by direct contact with discharges from respiratory mucous membranes of an infected person. However, the disease is triggered by Bordetella pertussis bacteria. More specifically, this bacteria attaches to the cilia of the respiratory epithelial cells, in lungs, and produce toxins that paralyze and cause inflammation to the respiratory tract. Epithelial cells are bonded together in sheets of tissue called epithelial. These cells differ from other cells by how capillaries do not reside within epithelial cell tissues, and ending of neurons are present, and perceive external stimulus. The bacteria can also be found in the throat, mouth, and nose of an infected person. Pertussis can occur at any age, however, children who are too young to be fully vaccinated and those who have not yet completed the primary vaccination series are at the highest risk. This disease is only found in humans.

Symptoms and Treatments



Early(1 to 2 weeks):

  1. Runny nose
  2. mild fever
  3. sore throat
  4. Apnea- a pause in breathing for babies
In this stage the disease seems nothing more than a common cold, thus it is not normally diagnosed until the more severe symptoms
Later stage
  1. Paroxysms (fits)-of many, rapid coughs followed by a high-pitched "whoop"
  2. vomiting
  3. exhaustion after coughing fits
Pertussis can cause violent and rapid coughing, over and over, until the air is gone from the lungs and you are forced to inhale with a loud "whooping" sound. The coughing fits can last up to 10 weeks or more.


1. Following the schedule for giving antibiotics exactly as your child's doctor prescribed.

2. Keeping your home free from irritants that can trigger coughing

3. Using a clean, cool mist vaporizer to help loosen mucus and soothe the cough

4. Practicing good hand washing.

5. Encouraging your child to drink plenty of fluids

antibiotics include: zithromycin (Zithromax), erythromycin and clarithromycin (Biaxin).

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Morality Rate

Worldwide, it is estimated that there are 16 million pertussis (whooping cough) cases and about 195,000 pertussis deaths in children per year. Most deaths occur in young babies who are either unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated.

Interesting facts

- 80% of children catch the disease from household members

- Children need the vaccinations to be fully protected

- Unvaccinated children have a eight times higher risk than a child with the vaccine

- Immunity offered by the vaccine can wane over time

- People with pertussis are most infectious during the early stages