Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
Pertussis Fact Sheet & Sound Bite
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 in Denver and Colorado
Pertussis is still up in Denver and Colorado. Denver Public Health tracks updated statistics on pertussis. In 2012, there were 219 cases of pertussis and there have been more than twice as many cases in 2013 as in an average year. Most cases are seen in infants and young children who often experience the most severe illness.
Are you up to date on your immunizations? Once is not enough!
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.
The people most at risk include the following:
- Pregnant women in their 3rd trimester
- Children in elementary and middle school who have already had the pertussis vaccine but need a booster shot
- Adults who have contact with infants
- Health care workers
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.
Additional Pertussis Resources
Pertussis Educational Video
In this educational video, hear what pertussis sounds like and learn from public health expert, Dr. Bill Burman, as he discusses the risks and steps to prevent pertussis.