PERTUSSIS (whooping cough) is a severe respiratory system infection caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis that can last for weeks to months. It is characterized by severe coughing spells that may end in a "whooping" sound when the infected person inhales.
Infants and children are not the only ones who get whooping cough. Over recent years, whooping cough has become more common in adults and adolescents. Symptoms of whooping cough can be milder in adults than children. In some cases, adults with whooping cough may have no symptoms at all yet still spread the disease to other susceptible people, including unimmunized or underimmunized infants. Adults are often found to have the first case of the infection in a household with multiple cases of pertussis. Tdap vaccination is the most effective way to prevent pertussis in adults.
Pertussis: Questions and Answers (103 KB)