Whooping cough is a very contagious and potentially fatal illness that is also called pertussis. Most people are immunised against the illness, so their risk of getting sick is small. Pertussis is serious and kills about one in two hundred babies who contract it, although most older children and adults who get it recover.
What causes whooping cough?
Whooping cough is caused by a bacterium called Bordetella pertussis. It is spread from person to person when someone who has the illness coughs or sneezes. Symptoms usually appear a week to three weeks after being exposed to the illness. People who have whooping cough are contagious for the first three weeks they have the cough or for the first five days of antibiotic treatment.
Is whooping cough serious?
Whooping cough is so serious that we vaccinate against it. The illness is can be deadly for babies under six months. One in two hundred babies who get whooping cough will die from it.
Can I prevent whooping cough?
Vaccinations are given at two months, four months, six months and four years. A booster is given in secondary school. If your child does get sick, keep her home from school and childcare until she is no longer contagious to prevent infecting other children.
How do I know if my child has whooping cough?
Whooping cough begins with what looks like a cold. Kids with whooping cough sometimes develop a severe cough after which they may make a distinct “whooping” noise as they gasp for air. This noise is not always obvious, but the gasp can be. The cough can last for months, even after the child is no longer sick. Kids who get whooping cough may also vomit after coughing. The coughing may be worse at night.
How do I treat whooping cough?
Call your doctor. Your child will need to take antibiotics for ten days to several weeks, depending on how serious the infection is. Almost all babies with whooping cough are admitted to the hospital for treatment as a precaution, since the illness is most serious for very young children. Other people who live in the house may also need to take antibiotics.
Should I call the doctor?
All suspected cases of whopping cough should be reported to the doctor, even if your child is not showing symptoms. Also call the doctor if your child turns blue while coughing or can’t seem to get enough air.
What you need to know about whooping cough
- Whooping cough is also called pertussis.
- Whooping cough is potentially deadly for babies less than six months old.
- Whooping cough is treated with antibiotics.
- Whooping cough can be prevented with vaccinations.