Fast Facts

Know the FACTS about pertussis
  • Pertussis is also known as “whooping cough” because of the “whooping” sound that someone makes when gasping for air after a fit of coughing.
  • Coughing fits due to pertussis infection can last for up to 10 weeks or more; some people know this disease as the “100 day cough.”
  • Pertussis can cause serious illness in people of all ages 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.
  • Clinicians generally treat pertussis with antibiotics, which are used to control symptoms and to prevent infected people from spreading the disease.
  • Worldwide, there are an estimated 24.1 million cases of pertussis and about 160,700 deaths per year, according to a recent publicationexternal icon modeling these data.
  • In 2012, the most recent peak year, CDC reported 48,277 cases of pertussis 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 public health experts reported 62,786 cases.
  • Since the 1980s, there has been an increase in the number of reported cases of pertussis in the United States. In 2010, CDC saw an increase in reported cases among 7 through 10 year olds. Similar trends occurred in the following years; however, CDC also observed an increase in cases among teens.