Whooping Cough Information

Pertussis is a highly infectious bacterial disease that causes a mild to moderate respiratory illness in adults. It is transmitted through coughing and sneezing. This disease has been on the rise globally. In addition, it has been on the increase in DuPage County since December 2010. Residential colleges and school systems are at high risk to pass this disease quickly among themselves. The following briefly describes the disease, but also the preventive actions that an individual can take to decrease the chances of spread.


Whooping cough (pertussis) is a highly contagious bacterial respiratory tract infection. In advanced stages, it's marked by a severe, hacking cough followed by a high-pitched intake of breath that sounds like "whoop."


Once you become infected with whooping cough, it takes 7-10 days for signs and symptoms to appear. They are usually mild at first and resemble those of a common cold: runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, red, watery eyes, a mild fever, and/or dry cough. If no treatment is sought, after 2-4 weeks the symptoms worsen with fits of coughing being the most pronounced.


There is an inexpensive antibiotic that kills this bacterium. People who have been clinically diagnosed with pertussis should stay away from people for 5-6 days after starting antibiotics. If close contacts of the diagnosed people can be identified, they should also receive this antibiotic regardless of their vaccination status. Contact your primary care physician for more information.


Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Hand sanitizers are sufficient. Childhood vaccinations should be up to date for pertussis. The childhood series is called “DPT” and contains antigens for the diseases diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. A childhood series is usually 3-4 shots between the ages of 2 months and 6 years.  An adult should have a tetanus and diphtheria booster every 10 years. The Centers for Disease Control strongly recommend that an adult receive one vaccination in their adult life that has the “pertussis” antigen when they receive their tetanus and diphtheria booster. 

More information

Here are some websites that offer excellent and accurate information regarding pertussis and vaccination.