Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
- Caused by a bacterium called “Bordatella pertussis”
Signs and Symptoms
- Although pertussis can occur at any age, it is most severe in children and infants under 1 year of age who have not been vaccinated.
- It takes 6-20 days to develop symptoms of pertussis after coming into contact with an infected person
- Usually begins with a runny nose and cough.
- The cough soon becomes more frequent and severe.
- The coughing spell may end in gagging, vomiting or trouble breathing.
- Sometimes after a coughing attack, the child may give a loud “whoop” sound when breathing in.
- Pertussis germs spread through the air or by touch
- People with Pertussis are contagious from the time they have the first symptoms until 3 weeks after the coughing attacks start (if antibiotics are not taken)
- Pertussis can be treated with antibiotics
- These antibiotics are most effective if started within 21 days of starting to cough
- After 5 days of antibiotics you are no longer contagious
- The antibiotics will not get rid of the coughing spells; the cough may last for 6-10 weeks or longer
- Antibiotic prophylaxis of close contacts is only recommended in those defined as a vulnerable person (infant less than 1 year of age or a pregnant woman in her third trimester)
- There is a vaccine available for Pertussis
Anyone with Pertussis should not return to daycare/school/work until the antibiotic has been taken for 5 days. Remember to finish the full course of antibiotics as ordered by your doctor.
Pertussis is a reportable disease and must be reported to the Local Medical Officer of Health under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.