Whooping Cough / Pertusis


Initial symptoms are similar to common cold, severe episodes of coughing start about 10 to 12 days later. Coughing spells may lead to vomiting or a short loss of consciousness. Runny nose, slight fever (102 °F or lower) and diarrhea are the other symptoms.

Tests to diagnose: 

The initial diagnosis is usually based on the symptoms. Pertussis tests are used to detect and diagnose a Bordetella pertussis infection. There are several tests that may be used when a pertussis infection is suspected:

  • Culture – this test has been the "gold standard" for identifying pertussis and is used to diagnose a pertussis infection.
  •  Laboratory test which involves taking a sample of secretions (with a swab or syringe filled with saline) from the back of the throat through the nose, blood test.
  • Antibodies, IgA, IgG, IgM – these blood tests measure the body's immune response to a pertussis infection.

DTaP vaccination, one of the recommended childhood immunizations, protects children against pertussis infection.  DTaP vaccine can be safely given to infants. Five DTaP vaccines are recommended. They are usually given to children at ages 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 to 18 months, and 4 to 6 years. Pertussis is generally treated with antibiotics and early treatment is very important. Sedatives (medicines to make you sleepy) may be prescribed for young children.

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