Whooping cough may sound like a disease from the past, but it is still active and potentially serious. At one time, whooping cough, also known as pertussis, was a leading cause of death for children in the United States.
The development of a vaccine significantly reduced the number of pertussis cases. However, teens and adults who received the vaccine as young children may lose their immunity.
Since the mid-1970s the number of reported pertussis cases has once again been on the rise. In 2010, 27,500 cases of pertussis were reported in the United States and many more cases were unreported.
Whooping cough is a serious respiratory infection caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis. These bacteria enter the body through the upper respiratory system which consists of the nose, nasal cavity, mouth, throat, and voice box.
The pertussis bacteria attach to cilia or tiny hairs that line the upper respiratoryv system.