Pertussis- Whooping Cough fact sheet - Pertussis - Whooping Cough fact sheet

  • Pertussis (whooping cough)  Fact Sheet

    Updated: January 2012    from Erie County Health Dept, Office of Epidemiology

     

    What is pertussis?

    Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a highly contagious bacterial infection that causes an uncontrollable, violent cough lasting several weeks or even months. It is caused by a bacterium that is found in the mouth, nose and throat of an infected person. Pertussis may begin with cold-like symptoms or a dry cough that progress to episodes of severe coughing.

     

    Who gets pertussis?

     

    Pertussis can occur at any age. Children who are too young to be fully vaccinated and those who have not yet completed the primary vaccination series are at highest risk for severe illness.  Since the 1980s, the number of reported pertussis cases has gradually increased in the United States. In 2005, over 25,000 cases of pertussis cases were reported in the United States, the highest number of reported cases since 1959. Approximately 60% of the cases were in adolescents and adults and may be a result of decreasing immunity in this population.

     

    How is pertussis spread?

     

    Pertussis is primarily spread from person to person by direct contact with mucus or droplets from the nose and throat of infected individuals. Frequently, older siblings who may be harboring the bacteria in their nose and throat can bring the disease home and infect an infant in the household.

     

    What are the symptoms of pertussis?

     

    Pertussis begins as a mild upper respiratory infection. Initially, symptoms resemble those of a common cold, including sneezing, runny nose, low- grade fever and a mild cough. Within two weeks,