Now, about that Pertussis...
What Is Pertussis or Whooping Cough?
- Whooping cough (pertussis) is a highly contagious disease marked by severe coughing. It is named after the "whoop" sound children and adults sometimes make when they try to breathe in during or after a severe coughing spell.
- Whooping cough usually starts with cold- or flu-like symptoms, such as runny nose, sneezing, fever, and a mild cough. These symptoms can last up to 2 weeks and are followed by increasingly severe coughing spells. Fever, if present, is usually mild.
- During a classic coughing spell:
- signature "whoop" is heard as the patient struggles to breathe
- coughs usually produce a thick, productive mucus
- vomiting may occur
- lips and nails may turn blue due to lack of oxygen
- patient is left exhausted after the coughing spell
- Mild pertussis disease is difficult to diagnose because its symptoms mimic those of a cold. Usually a prolonged cough is present, but without the "whoop.”
- Milder symptoms usually affect all age groups, but are increasing among school children.
- The coughing attacks may last for many months in the "classic illness" or just a few days in the mild form of the disease. The Chinese refer to whooping cough as the “cough of 100 days.”
- Symptoms appear between 6 to 21 days (average 7-10) after exposure to the bacteria.