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Pertussis AKA Whooping Cough

City Risk LogoOccupational Health & Infectious Disease

                        Risk Management, Portland, OR                                                              4/23/13

 Health Tips - Whooping Cough Title


Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious bacterial respiratory infection. Because it is bacterial, it can be treated with antibiotics. Luckily, there is a vaccine available for this disease.



There are 3 stages of Pertussis, each lasting approximately 2-4 weeks.

  • Stage #1 (the most contagious stage)

    • Mild cold like symptoms: sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, cough,
  • Stage #2

    • Coughing becomes harsh, dry, and irritating. Coughing fits can last 10-20 seconds and are often followed by vomiting, turning blue in color from lack of oxygen, and exhaustion.
  • Stage #3

    • Recovery stage: cough becomes milder and less frequent.



How does a person get Pertussis?

Pertussis spreads person to person when coming in contact with mucus from the nose or throat of an infected person. When a person coughs or sneezes, invisible droplets are released into the air, which can carry the bacteria. If these droplets are inhaled, you can become infected.



How is Pertussis treated?

Pertussis is treated with antibiotics. Once a person is diagnosed, they should remain isolated for the first 5 days of antibiotic treatment to reduce the chance of spreading the disease to others.



Can Pertussis be prevented?

Yes! Immunizations are available and are the most important measure in preventing infection with Pertussis.


If you feel you may have come in contact with someone who has Pertussis and are unsure if you have been immunized, contact your doctor; they may be able to give you preventative antibiotics if your immunization is out of date.


- Pertussis (Whooping cough). (2004). Retrieved from

- Whooping cough. (n.d). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from