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Download a Pertussis Information Sheet or click the icon below to listen to a child with Whooping Cough.
Pertussis (Whooping Cough) often occurs in children as a persistent cough for as long as three weeks with no fever. A person with pertussis may cough so hard that it causes gagging or vomiting and a “whooping” sound as the person gasps for air after a coughing fit.
Whooping cough is contagious. It can spread easily by coughing or sneezing. Babies often get it from adult family members who do not know they have whooping cough because the cough tends to be less severe in adults. Infants are at the most risk for serious health complications from whooping cough, including hospitalization and even death. If left untreated, individuals may spread the disease for three weeks.
Pertussis is preventable through immunization. The best way to protect individuals most at risk (children, pregnant women and students) is to ensure you are up-to-date on your immunizations. The pertussis vaccine can lose potency over time, so everyone should check with their healthcare providers about a booster shot to increase immunity.
Vaccinations are the best way to prevent whooping cough and everyone in these high risk groups should receive a booster. Vaccinations not only protect the individual, but also prevent the spread of whooping cough to babies who are still too young to receive the vaccine. Parents can also help protect infants by keeping them away from anyone who has cold symptoms or is coughing. Individuals who have close contact with infants should check with their provider or Denver Public Health's Immunization Clinic.
You may learn more about whooping cough with the following resources:
Hear Dr. Bill Burman discuss pertussis and learn what it sounds like.