Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
Overview

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It is caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis.

Pertussis is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe. After fits of many coughs, someone with pertussis often needs to take deep breaths which result in a "whooping" sound. Pertussis most commonly affects infants and young children and can be fatal, especially in babies less than 1 year of age.

Pertussis is a very contagious disease only found in humans and is spread from person to person. People with pertussis usually spread the disease by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others, who then breathe in the pertussis bacteria. Many infants who get pertussis are infected by older siblings, parents or caregivers who might not even know they have the disease. Symptoms of pertussis usually develop within 5–10 days after being exposed, but sometimes not for as long as 3 weeks.

While pertussis vaccines are the most effective tool we have to prevent this disease, no vaccine is 100% effective. If pertussis is circulating in the community, there is a chance that a fully vaccinated person, of any age, can catch this very contagious disease. If you have been vaccinated, the infection is usually less severe. If you or your child develops a cold that includes a severe cough or a cough that lasts for a long time, it may be pertussis. The best way to know is to contact your doctor.

For more information on pertussis, click here

Vaccine - Tdap or DTaP

The best way to prevent pertussis (whooping cough) among infants, children, teens, and adults is to get vaccinated. Also, keep infants and other people at high risk for pertussis complications away from infected people.

In the United States, the recommended pertussis vaccine for infants and children is called DTaP. This is a combination vaccine that protects against three diseases: diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.

Vaccine protection for these three diseases fades with time. Before 2005, the only booster available contained protection against tetanus and diphtheria (called Td), and was recommended for teens and adults every 10 years. Today there is a booster for preteens, teens and adults that contains protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap).

The easiest thing for adults to do is to get Tdap instead of their next regular tetanus booster-that Td shot that they were supposed to get every 10 years. The dose of Tdap can be given earlier than the 10-year mark, so it is a good idea for adults to talk to a healthcare provider about what is best for their specific situation.

Being up-to-date with pertussis vaccines is especially important for families with and caregivers of new infants.

For more information on pertussis vaccines, click here.

School Exclusion and Reportable to Public Health

A child diagnosed with pertussis will be excluded from school until 5 days after the appropriate antibiotics have started or for 21 days after the onset of the cough if the student is not treated with antibiotics.

Cases of pertussis should be reported to Ventura County Public Health.

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