Is whooping cough (pertussis) serious?

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Pertussis (whooping cough) is most severe for babies; about half of infants younger than 1 year of age who get the disease need treatment in the hospital. About one in four hospitalized infants with pertussis get pneumonia (lung infection), and about two-thirds will have slowed or stopped breathing. Pertussis can be deadly for one or two infants per 100 who are hospitalized.

(The presence of the CDC logo and CDC content on this page should not be construed to imply endorsement by the U.S. government of any commercial products or services, or to replace the advice of a medical professional. The mark “CDC” is licensed under authority of the PHS.)
Mark J. Sanders, MD
Pediatrics
It can be very serious for the very young. I recommend to all my new moms and dads that everyone, ages 11-64 in their household or in regular/close contact with their baby, get a one-time whooping cough (pertussis) booster for themselves ASAP. Much heartache could be avoided with an ounce of prevention.

Please see my profile page for a link to a local story on the dangers of whooping cough in children and the importance of vaccinating against pertussis. 

Whooping cough is a very serious, contagious bacterial infection that is easily transmitted to others. Whooping cough may lead to death, especially for children under the age of one. Young children who have whooping cough often require hospitalization and oxygen to make breathing easier. Twenty-three percent of hospitalized infants with the disease develop pneumonia and in rare cases the brain is damaged. Between 1 and 2% of those children die from the disease.

Continue Learning about Whooping Cough

Whooping Cough

Whooping Cough

If your child experiences uncontrollable coughing that makes it difficult for them to breathe, talk to your doctor about whooping cough. Thousands of people yearly become ill with whooping cough, which is also known as pertussis, ...

and some are hospitalized. This highly contagious illness can be very dangerous, and even deadly, in young infants. Thankfully, vaccines have helped to reduce the spread of whooping cough, although current vaccines are not 100% effective against this illness. If your child contracts this bacterial respiratory infection he or she will most likely be treated with antibiotics. To protect your children against whooping cough, talk to your doctor about vaccination
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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.