What is Pertussis?
Pertussis, also know as whooping cough, is a contagious infection of the lungs and airways. It is caused by bacteria called bordetella pertussis. Pertussis is a disease that happens year round everywhere in the world.
Each year in Canada between 1,000 and 3,000 people fall ill from pertussis. Worldwide, there are about 20 to 40 million cases of and 400,000 deaths from pertussis each year.
Pertussis causes serious fits that can lead to choking or vomiting. The coughing can be so intense that a "whooping" sound happens when you try to catch your breath.
What are the symptoms?
Mild fever, runny nose, red watery eyes and a cough
Serious coughing fits that can last for 2 to 8 weeks that may cause difficulty breathing, choking and vomiting
Symptoms appear up to 7 to 10 days after being infected with the bacteria but could appear up to 28 days days after infection.
Older children and adults, pertussis symptoms may be less severe. They may appears as cold-like symptoms with a constant cough that lasts longer than 1 week.
Without treatment, pertussis can last weeks or months, and can cause brain damage or even death. It is most dangerous for children under 1 year old, especially if they are unvaccinated or under-vaccinated. It is important that you and your children receive all of your vaccinations for protection of yourself and others.
How is it transmitted?
People with pertussis usually spread the disease by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others who then breathe in the pertussis bacteria.
Source: © All Rights Reserved. Vaccine-Preventable Diseases: Pertussis (Whooping Cough). Public Health Agency of Canada, 2014. Reproduced with permission from the Minister of Health, 2014.