Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. While it can affect people of all ages, it is particularly dangerous for infants and young children. Despite the availability of vaccines, pertussis continues to pose a significant public health challenge worldwide. In this blog, we will explore the symptoms, prevention strategies, and treatment options for pertussis.


Symptoms of Pertussis

Pertussis typically progresses through three stages, each with distinct symptoms:

1. Catarrhal Stage
  • Duration: 1-2 weeks
  • Symptoms: Mild coughing, sneezing, runny nose, low-grade fever
  • This stage is often mistaken for a common cold due to its mild, non-specific symptoms.
2. Paroxysmal Stage
  • Duration: 1-6 weeks (or longer)
  • Symptoms: Severe, uncontrollable coughing fits followed by a high-pitched “whoop” sound during inhalation, vomiting after coughing, exhaustion
  • The characteristic “whooping” sound is more common in children than in adults. Infants may not exhibit the whoop but can have trouble breathing.
3. Convalescent Stage
  • Duration: Several weeks to months
  • Symptoms: Gradual recovery with a reduction in coughing episodes
  • During this stage, secondary infections like pneumonia can occur.


Pertussis. Whooping cough. Best Diagnostic Centre in Kolkata.


The most effective way to prevent pertussis is through vaccination. There are two main vaccines used to protect against pertussis:

1. DTaP Vaccine
  • Target Group: Infants and young children
  • Schedule: Administered in a series of five doses at 2, 4, 6, and 15-18 months, with a booster at 4-6 years.
2. Tdap Vaccine
  • Target Group: Preteens, teenagers, and adults
  • Schedule: Given as a single dose at 11-12 years, with additional booster doses for pregnant women during each pregnancy and for adults who have not previously received Tdap.



Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to managing pertussis effectively. The primary treatment involves antibiotics to eradicate the bacteria and reduce the severity and duration of symptoms. Commonly prescribed antibiotics include azithromycin, clarithromycin, and erythromycin.


Supportive Care
  • Hydration: Ensuring adequate fluid intake to prevent dehydration.
  • Nutrition: Small, frequent meals to maintain energy levels.
  • Rest: Plenty of rest to aid in recovery.
  • Hospitalization: In severe cases, especially for infants, hospitalization may be necessary to provide oxygen therapy and monitor respiratory function.


Complications of Pertussis

If left untreated or not treated promptly, pertussis can lead to severe complications, particularly in infants and young children. These may include:

  • Pneumonia
  • Convulsions
  • Apnea (temporary cessation of breathing)
  • Encephalopathy (brain disorder)
  • Death (in severe cases)

Pertussis is a serious respiratory disease that can have severe consequences, especially for vulnerable populations like infants. Vaccination remains the cornerstone of prevention, and early treatment is essential for reducing the severity of the disease. By staying informed about the symptoms, prevention strategies, and treatment options, we can protect ourselves and our communities from the impact of pertussis.


Remember, always consult with your Doctor for personalized medical advice and vaccination schedules.


To consult a Doctor at Sparsh Diagnostic Centre, call 9830117733.





No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.


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