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Fast Facts

Español: Datos breves

Know the FACTS about pertussis
  • In 2012, 48,277 cases of pertussis (whooping cough) were reported in the U.S., but many more go undiagnosed and unreported. This is the most number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1955 when 62,786 cases were reported.
  • Coughing fits due to pertussis infection can last for up to 10 weeks or more; sometimes known as the "100 day cough."
  • Pertussis can cause serious illness in infants, children and adults and can even be life-threatening, especially in infants.
  • The most effective way to prevent pertussis is through vaccination with DTaP for infants and children and with Tdap for preteens, teens and adults — protection from the childhood vaccine fades over time.
  • Vaccinated children and adults can become infected with and transmit pertussis; however, disease is less likely to be severe.
  • Worldwide, there are an estimated 16 million cases of pertussis and about 195,000 deaths per year.
  • Since the 1980s, there has been an increase in the number of reported cases of pertussis in the U.S. In 2010, an increase in reported cases among 7-10 year olds was seen. Similar trends occurred during 2012; however, a slight increase in cases was also observed among 13 and 14 year olds.
  • Pertussis is also known as "whooping cough" because of the "whooping" sound that is made when gasping for air after a fit of coughing.
  • Approximately half of infants less than 1 year of age who get pertussis are hospitalized.
  • Vaccination of pregnant women with Tdap is especially important to help protect infants.
  • Pertussis is generally treated with antibiotics, which are used to control the symptoms and to prevent infected people from spreading the disease.