Whooping cough (Pertussis) is a bacterial respiratory disease that is very serious for babies and can cause them to cough so much that they cannot breathe. Hundreds of babies are hospitalized each year in the U.S. with whooping cough, and some die from it.
Whooping cough can cause adults and teens to have severe coughing that leads to vomiting or broken ribs. They can be hospitalized and miss weeks of work and school. Even worse, they can spread whooping cough to the babies at home.
The best way to prevent whooping cough is through vaccinations. The childhood vaccine is called DTaP. The pertussis booster vaccine for adolescents and adults is called Tdap. Both protect against pertussis, tetanus, and diphtheria.
For more information about Pertussis, visit the CDC web site.
Whooping cough often begins with cold-like symptoms. The disease often turns into to a severe, constant cough that ends with a “whoop” sound, primarily in younger children. Older children, teens and adults may not have the “whoop.” Also characteristic of a “pertussis cough” are coughing fits where it is hard to catch your breath that may end in vomiting. Usually there is little or no fever. Young infants are particularly vulnerable and may require hospitalization.
Learn what the "pertussis cough" sounds like.
Tdap is recommended for children 11 years of age and older and for parents and care givers of children under 2 years old. Because immunity from vaccines wears off over time, getting a Tdap booster shot is critical.
Studies show that up to 96% of infants with whooping cough got it from a family member. Babies too young to be vaccinated have a circle of protection when parents and others who care for them have their Tdap.
For vaccine availability, contact your healthcare provider, retail pharmacy clinic, or local health department. Learn more about Franklin County Public Health's Immunization Clinic information.
Young children need a total of five pertussis immunizations to be protected. Also, students entering 7th grade are now required to have a booster dose of the Tdap before they go to school.
Whooping cough is spread by coughing. Use the sleeve of your clothes, elbow, shoulder or a tissue to cover your cough. Wash your hands often. Alcohol-based hand cleaners also work (with at least 60% alcohol) when you can’t wash your hands.
Stay home or keep children home when ill. Seek medical attention for a worsening cough and talk with your doctor about a possible pertussis infection.