Pertussis, or whooping cough, is less common in young children than it used to be, as the pertussis vaccine has made most children immune.
Before this vaccine was developed, there were several hundred thousand cases of whooping cough each year in the United States. Now, there are approximately one million cases a year in the U.S., but mostly in adults and adolescents.
What are the symptoms?
Pertussis often acts like a common cold for a week or two. Then, the cough gets worse, and the older child may start to have the characteristic "whoops." During this phase (which can last two weeks or more), the child often is short of breath and can look bluish around the mouth. She also may tear, drool, and vomit.
Infants with pertussis become exhausted and develop complications such as susceptibility to other infections, pneumonia, and seizures. Pertussis can be fatal in some infants, but the usual course is for recovery to begin after two to four more weeks. The cough may not disappear for months, and may return with subsequent respiratory infections.
Who is most at risk?
Listen in as Katherine Edwards, MD, discusses the symptoms of whopping cough, who is most at risk, and how you can prevent it.