Pertussis (whooping cough) is a very contagious respiratory tract infection caused by a type of bacteria called Bordetella pertussis. Whooping cough is most contagious before the coughing begins. Pertussis is one of the most commonly occurring diseases that is vaccine-preventable in the United States. Protection from the childhood vaccine fades over time. Revaccinated is recommended for adolescents and adults even if you were completely vaccinated as a child.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Texas State Department of Health and Human Services recommends vaccination of all persons
The childhood vaccine is called DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussin); for adolescents and adults the vaccine is called Tdap. Both protect against whooping cough, tetanus, and diphtheria. Vaccination recommendations:
Regardless of your age, consult your health care provider. These vaccines and other health care services are available by contacting:
Symptoms of the Disease
The disease begins similar to the common cold, with a runny nose or congestion, sneezing, and maybe mild cough or fever. After one to two weeks, severe coughing begins. Infants and children with the disease cough violently and rapidly, over and over, until they are forced to inhale with a loud "whooping" sound to breath.
Transmission of the Disease
Whooping cough is usually spread by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others, who then breathe in the pertussis bacteria. Many infants who get pertussis are infected by parents, older siblings, or other caregivers who might not even know they have the disease.
Reducing Your Chances of Becoming Infected
The best way to prevent pertussis is to get vaccinated. For infants it is best to keep them away as much as possible from anyone who has cold symptoms or is coughing. Vaccine protection for pertussis can fade with time. Other measures for preventing or reducing your risk for whooping cough are to follow good hygiene practices:
When to Return to School/Work
The CDC and Texas State Department of Health Services provide the following general guidelines to determine when one can return to work after developing whooping cough:
NOTE: Individuals who have had whooping cough should stay away from school and work for as long as symptoms exist. This could be for an extended period of time. It is highly recommended that an individual seek guidance from their health care professional or the local health department to determine when it is appropriate to return to work or school. In addition:
For More Information
To learn more about whooping cough and related vaccines, please talk with a health care provider or call the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Immunization Branch at 800.252.9152 or 512.458.7284. For general information about whooping cough visit the websites of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).