Uncontrollable coughing spells followed by a whooping noise when a person breathes in.
During these severe coughing spells, a person may vomit, or their lips or face may look blue from a lack of oxygen.
Between coughing spells, a person may
This stage may last 4 to 6 weeks.
Children and adults partially protected by the vaccine may become infected, but may have a milder illness than infants and very young children. These persons infected with a mild case may not experience any symptoms or have only mild cough, however, they can still transmit the disease to others, including infants too young to be immunized.
Infants younger than 6 months, adolescents and adults, may have a cough that does not include the "whooping" sound.
Who gets pertussis?
Pertussis can occur at any age, but is most commonly reported
in children in the first year of life.
Infants and young
children usually get the disease from an older brother or sister or an adult who may have a mild
How is pertussis spread?
The bacteria which cause pertussis are found in the
mouths, noses, and throats of infected people.
bacteria are spread in the air by droplets produced
during sneezing or coughing.
Once a person is
exposed by inhaling these droplets, it takes 7 to 10
days before the first symptoms appear.
Pertussis: A Family's Story
How long can a person spread pertussis?
Pertussis is very contagious during the early stage of
the illness and becomes less contagious by the end of
three weeks. Antibiotics will shorten the contagious
period of the illness.
How is pertussis diagnosed?
A doctor may suspect pertussis when someone
has the symptoms described above.
A sample of
mucus from the back of the nose must be taken
during the early stage of the illness in order to grow
Laboratory tests can be done on the
sample to identify the bacteria.
How is pertussis treated?
Infants younger than 6 months of age and persons
with severe cases often require hospitalization.
Severe cases may require oxygen and mild sedation to help control coughing spells.
make the illness less severe if started in the early
stage of the disease.
Generally, if a person is exposed
to pertussis, specific antibiotics may help prevent the
How can the spread of pertussis be prevented?
Prompt use of antibiotics in a household with an active case of pertussis is helpful in limiting other cases.
If a case occurs in a child
attending a childcare facility, antibiotics should be
given to household contacts and other close contacts.
Children who develop symptoms within 14 days of
exposure should be excluded from childcare facilities
until a diagnosis can be made.
Where can I get more information?
Contact your physician or the Southern Nevada Health District, Office of Epidemiology at (702) 759-1300.