Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by bacteria. It is commonly known as Whooping Cough.
Symptoms are similar to the common cold, with a runny nose and irritating cough that gets worse over 1-2 weeks. Severe coughing attacks occur which make it difficult to breathe. When trying to catch a breath, it may sound like a "whoop". It also can cause a person to gag, vomit, and spit up clear mucous. The person can feel well between coughing attacks, which can make it difficult to diagnose.
Symptoms usually last for 6-10 weeks, but some teens and adults continue to have coughing attacks even longer. It has been called the "100 day cough" for that reason. Adults who have a cough for longer than 2 weeks should see a doctor.
Infants less than 6 months old, older children and adults may not have the classic whooping sound. The infection is most severe in infants less than 6 months, and they often need to be cared for in the hospital.
Symptoms can appear 6-20 days after exposure to someone with the infection. They most commonly begin after 9-10 days
A person with pertussis can be contagious from the time they have the first symptoms until 5 days after antibiotic treatment or for 21 days if not treated with antibiotics.
Pertussis is diagnosed by taking a nose/throat swab.
People infected with pertussis should remain at home until they have been taking the appropriate antibiotics for at least 5 days.
Pertussis is treated with appropriate antibiotics.
When a case of Pertussis is reported to Public Health, a public health nurse will determine close contacts that are at risk of developing the disease. All household contacts should be treated with antibiotics as well as other close contacts identified. Those who are identified as close contacts should watch for symptoms for 20 days after being exposed to Pertussis.
This information is intended to provide general health-related information about Pertussis. It is not intended to replace medical consultation by your physician and/or other health care professionals.