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A serious, contagious, bacterial infection of the lungs and air passages (bronchi). Immunization throughout the world has greatly decreased the incidence of whooping cough.
It involves Bronchial tubes; larynx; lungs.


Affects all ages, but most common in children between 2-7 yr.

Signs & Symptons

Early stages:

  • Running nose
  • Dry cough that progresses to a cough with thick sputum
  • Slight fever.

Late stages:

  • Severe, continual coughing bouts that last up to 1 minute. The face turns red or blue from lack of oxygen while coughing. At the end of each coughing effort, the child gasps for breath with a classical “whoop” sound
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Fever.


Infection with a bacteria Bordetella Pertussis.

The disease is transmitted by direct contact with a contagious person, or by indirect contact, such as breathing air containing infected droplets or handling linen or other contaminated articles. The incubation period is 5 to 7 days.

Risk Increases With

  • Non-immunized populations
  • Epidemics in late winter or early spring. The bacteria become more virulent as they spread
  • Crowded or unsanitary living conditions


Obtain immunizations against whooping cough for all children. Immunization against Diptheria is the ‘P’ part of Triple Antigen or DPT (hyperlink) and normally begins at 2 months. Immunization after age 5 is not recommended.

Diagnostic Measures

  • Observation of symptoms
  • Medical history and physical exam by a doctor
  • Laboratory studies, such as culture of the sputum and special antibody studies
  • X-rays of the chest.

Possible Complications

  • Children under 1 year of age are subject to severe complications or death
  • Nosebleeds
  • Retinal detachment
  • Seizures and encephalitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Apnea (slowed or stopped breathing)
  • Middle-ear infection
  • Ruptured blood vessels in the brain

Probable Outcomes

Usually curable in about 6 weeks with treatment. The usual course of illness is : 2 weeks with the non-characteristic cough; 2 weeks with bouts of the “whooping” cough; and 2 weeks for convalescence. Some persistent cough may continue for months.


General Measures

  • Isolate the ill person until fever disappears. Necessary visitors should wear masks
  • During a coughing bout in a baby, raise the foot of the crib. Place the baby face down with the head turned to one side to help drain the lungs. Older children usually prefer to sit up and lean forward during coughing bouts
  • Use a cool-mist humidifier to soothe the cough and help loosen bronchial and lung secretions
  • Hospitalization with intensive care for severely ill infants. Older children can usually be treated at home.


  • Don’t use cough medicine unless your doctor prescribes it
  • Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics for complications, such as middle-ear infection or pneumonia

Keep the child in bed until the fever disappears. Normal activity should be resumed slowly, according to strength.


  • Encourage extra fluids, such as fruit juice, tea, milk
  • No special diet. Small, frequent meals may decrease vomiting

Contact your Doctor

  • our child has signs of whooping cough, especially blueness of the face with coughing bouts
  • Fever
  • Vomiting persists more than 1 or 2 days.