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Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

(304) 598-5119

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

Pertussis is known for causing 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. Hear how a child with whooping cough sounds.

If you think you or a family member might have pertussis, contact your health-care provider.

Pertussis most commonly affects infants and young children and can be fatal, especially in babies less than 1 year of age. About half of infants who get pertussis are hospitalized. The younger the infant, the more likely treatment in the hospital will be needed.

People with pertussis spread the disease by coughing or sneezing. Many infants who get pertussis are infected by older siblings, parents, grandparents or caregivers who might not even know they have the disease.

Preventing Pertussis

Living in a community that is mostly immune to pertussis is the best way to protect vulnerable infants, who cannot be fully protected from the disease.  Infants, children, teens, pregnant people and adults should all be vaccinated against pertussis at recommended intervals. Using good basic health practices also helps — wash your hands, cover your cough and stay home when you’re sick.

Pregnant people should get vaccinated in the third trimester of every pregnancy. This can pass some protection to the baby.

Adults should be vaccinated every 10 years or more often when they are around young infants or during outbreaks. Adults do not maintain immunity to pertussis from their childhood vaccinations.

Call 304-598-5119 to make an appointment for a Tdap or DTaP vaccine.

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