Baby > Your baby > Medical queries for baby > Childhood illnesses > Childhood diseases - Whooping cough

Childhood diseases - Whooping cough

Useful information on the causes, signs and symptoms and treatment of whooping cough, plus information on the whooping cough childhood vaccine.
Whooping cough (Pertussis) is a highly contagious disease, transmitted by droplets from the nose or mouth, that is one of the leading causes of vaccine-preventable deaths. There are 30-50 million cases per year, and about 300,000 deaths per year. 90% of all cases occur in developing countries.

The disease was recognisably described as early as 1578, and its causative organism, Bordetella pertussis, was isolated in pure culture in 1906 by Jules Bordet and Octave Gengou.


The disease is characterised by a cough, fever, sneezing, and runny nose. After several weeks the cough changes character, with coughing followed by a "whooping" sound which can go on for several weeks. Coughing fits may be followed by vomiting, which in severe cases leads to malnutrition. Other complications of the disease include pneumonia, encephalitis, and secondary bacterial superinfection.

The disease is spread by contact with airborne discharges from the mucous membranes of infected people. Treatment of the disease with antibiotics (often erythromycin or chloramphenicol) results in the person becoming less infectious but probably does not significantly alter the outcome of the disease.

The whooping cough vaccine offers protection for a few years, and are given so that immunity lasts through childhood, the time of greatest exposure and greatest risk. Immunisations are often given in combination with tetanus and diphtheria immunizations, at ages 2, 4, and 6 months, and later at 15-18 months and 4-6 years. Traditionally, whooping cough vaccines are not given after age seven, as the frequency of side effects associated with the immunisation increased with age. The most serious side-effects of immunisation are neurological, including seizures and hypotonic episodes. The disease is much milder in adults than in children and many cases go undiagnosed.
Author :

Chat or Ask a Question:

If you have a question about this article or something else, visit our friendly forums & ask the AskBaby community.

Chat about childhood diseases - whooping cough with our friendly community...

Your Comments:

We'd love to hear your comments on this article...

Login to add your comment:

Email: Password:
Not yet a member? Join thousands of other parents and parents-to-be... Sign Up Now!
Forgot your

sir,what medicine is used in this diseases (Whooping cough)
by goavasco 1st Sep 2010, 10:06am