Whooping Cough / Pertussis

Vaccinations at Washington Township Medical Foundation

Pertussis is a condition commonly referred to as “whooping cough” due to a distinguishing symptom: A strange, extended cough that often makes a distinctive “whooping” sound—though this is not always the case. This is a dry cough that does not produce mucus, which is why the cough produces a strange sound. Infants with whooping cough may not make this sound when coughing, and others may not cough. They may gasp for air and struggle to catch their breath or vomit. Whooping cough is a very contagious infection that affects the respiratory tract.

In addition to the cough, other early symptoms of this condition include:

  • Congestion
  • A runny nose
  • A low fever
  • Sneezing

Typically, a doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat a case of pertussis / whooping cough. However, there is a vaccine available that is highly safe and effective in preventing whooping cough from occurring. Pertussis / whooping cough is especially dangerous for infants. The DTaP and Tdap vaccines are examples of immunizations that can help prevent this condition.

Do I Need to Seek Medical Care for My Child?

While an adult with pertussis may simply experience a persistent cough, a child or infant with the condition could be in serious danger. If you believe your child may have whooping cough, seek medical attention immediately. This condition is especially dangerous for infants under the age of 18 months and they may need emergency care. It is important to watch a child who may have pertussis or who has been diagnosed with pertussis at all times, as the cough can cause them to stop breathing. Protect your child by ensuring that he / she is immunized properly and is not exposed to unvaccinated adults. Ask your doctor if you have questions about your child’s immunization schedule.