How could whooping cough (pertussis) spread to my child?

Pertussis is very contagious (spreads easily from one person to another). It spreads through the air in droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can also get on people’s hands. Washing your hands is one of the easiest ways to help prevent the spread of pertussis. The incubation period is usually 7 to 10 days, but could be as long as 21 days.

People with pertussis (whooping cough) usually spread the disease by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others, who then breathe in the pertussis bacteria. Many infants who get pertussis are infected by parents, older siblings or other caregivers who might not even know they have the disease.

Continue Learning about Whooping Cough

How to Prevent Whooping Cough
How to Prevent Whooping Cough
Pertussis, nicknamed “whooping cough” thanks to the whoop-like sound a sufferer makes after a coughing fit, is a highly contagious and potentially ser...
Read More
What will happen if my child’s cough isn’t treated?
James FortenberryJames Fortenberry
Any child with a prolonged cough (more than 10 days) should be seen by his regular doctor. The docto...
More Answers
What is whooping cough (pertussis)?
Dr. Michael Roizen, MDDr. Michael Roizen, MD
Pertussis or whooping cough is a disease that causes severe coughing that makes it hard to breathe, ...
More Answers
How Effective Are Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Vaccines?
How Effective Are Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Vaccines?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.