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- Pertussis is also known as “whooping cough” because of the “whooping” sound that is made when gasping for air after a fit of coughing.
- Coughing fits due to pertussis infection can last for up to 10 weeks or more; this disease is sometimes known as the “100 day cough.”
- Pertussis can cause serious illness in babies, children, teens, and adults and can even be life-threatening, especially in babies.
- Approximately half of babies less than 1 year old who get pertussis need treatment in the hospital.
- The most effective way to prevent pertussis is through vaccination with DTaP for babies and children and with Tdap for preteens, teens, and adults.
- Vaccination of pregnant women with Tdap is especially important to help protect babies.
- Vaccinated children and adults can become infected with and spread pertussis; however, disease is typically much less serious in vaccinated people.
- Pertussis is generally treated with antibiotics, which are used to control the symptoms and to prevent infected people from spreading the disease.
- Worldwide, there are an estimated 16 million cases of pertussis and about 195,000 deaths per year.
- In 2012, the most recent peak year, 48,277 cases of pertussis were reported in the United States, but many more go undiagnosed and unreported. This is the largest number of cases reported in the United States since 1955 when 62,786 cases were reported.
- Since the 1980s, there has been an increase in the number of reported cases of pertussis in the United States. In 2010, an increase in reported cases among 7 through 10 year olds was seen. Similar trends occurred in the following years; however, an increase in cases was also observed among teens.
- Page last reviewed: August 31, 2015
- Page last updated: September 8, 2015
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