• Whooping Cough 

    Maricopa County Department of Public Health




    Whooping cough, also known as “pertussis,” is a highly contagious disease caused by a bacteria which is spread through the air by coughing or contact with infected secretions from the mouth, nose or throat.  Adults, adolescents and even fully immunized children can get pertussis and pass it on to babies and very young children who are more likely to develop serious illness and complications


    Ø      Coughing illness lasting longer than one to two weeks (without another known cause).  Cough lasting more than 2 weeks with no other reason for cough.


    Ø      Coughing illness which becomes worse over 1-2 weeks with long series of violent coughing lasting several minutes, person appears and feels well between “fits” of coughing.  Paroxysms of coughing


    Ø      Spasms of cough (sudden spells or “fits” of coughing where one cough follows the next without a break for a breath, a whooping sound may be heard in children).  Inspiratory “whoop”


    Ø      Throwing up/vomiting after a “fit” of coughing.  Post-tussive vomiting or gagging


    Ø      Trouble catching their breath or turning blue after a “fit” of coughing.  Apnea or difficulty breathing especially in infant; periodic apnea in adult.    


    Ø      Coughing is often worse at night and cough medicines usually do not help.



    If you observe any of the above symptoms, please request the staff member or student stay home; contact his/her health care provider and inform him or her of a possible pertussis exposure.   If whooping cough is diagnosed, he/she can return after five full days of appropriate antibiotic therapy.  For questions call 602-506-6767 and ask to speak to a disease surveillance nurse.

    From Maricopa County Department of Public Health

    Whooping Cough(Pertussis) Information Sheet


    What is whooping cough?

    Respiratory infection caused by Bordetella Pertussis.


    What are the symptoms of whooping cough?

    Mild cold-like signs and symptoms accompanied by little or no fever.  Coughing, which gets worse within 1-2 weeks and becomes spasmodic. The cough may be followed by a “whooping sound” in older infants and preschool children. Coughing will include increased production of mucus. After episodes of coughing, vomiting  may occur.


    How can you become infected with whooping cough?

    v     Contact with secretions of the nose, mouth and throat of an infected person. These secretions may be on surfaces or in infected droplets in the air.

    v     Cough is most contagious during the cold-like stage to 3 weeks after it begins.


    How can you prevent whooping cough?

    v     Untreated persons must be excluded for 3 weeks following the onset of “hard coughing.

    v     Whooping cough is a vaccine-preventable disease. Review immunization record.

    v     It is recommended that household members and close contacts receive a preventive course of antibiotics.


    How can you be treated for whooping cough?

    Your doctor can prescribe antibiotics and the person may return to day care after 5 days of treatment and the person is fever-free. 


    *Those infected with Whooping cough should not work or attend a day care center until symptoms are absent or after 5 days of antibiotic treatment. If you need more information, please call the Office of Community Health Nursing at (602) 506-6767.




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