Whooping cough or pertussis is a violent coughing attack found mostly in infants and young children. Though anyone can get whooping cough, it is less common in older people.
It is a contagious disease passed on by tiny droplets following a sneeze or cough. Whooping cough is serious and can cause permanent disability or death in infants.
Characterized by a whooping sound when the patient tries to breathe, this upper respiratory infection is treatable if detected early.
Because symptoms closely resemble the common cold, whooping cough is difficult to diagnose. Slight fever, runny nose and diarrhea are the only early leads. These symptoms are not much to go on, as it usually takes 10 to 12 days after exposure to the bacteria before severe episodes of coughing and vomiting begin.
Whooping cough is preventable with the pertussis vaccine. Antibiotics are successful if given early and will help keep the disease from spreading.