Infectious Diseases: Whooping Cough (Pertussis)



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Symptoms

Whooping cough begins with a runny nose and cough. The coughing attacks get louder and more frequent, to the point that a child can’t breathe. After each attack of coughing, a loud whoop is heard as the child takes in a breath. These severe coughing spells last for two to three weeks. Babies with whooping cough may seizures and go into a coma. Babies under one year of age usually have to be hospitalized. Whooping cough used to kill many young children. Thankfully, it is rare in Canada because of immunization.

Cause

Caused by germs that get into the throat and lungs.

Treatment

Talk to your doctor.

Transmission/Prevention

Spread when an infected person coughs. Germs from the person’s nose and mouth are spread in the air and other people breathe them in. Whooping cough is prevented by the pertussis vaccine. Ask your doctor when your child should get this vaccine.

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