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Whooping Cough

Overview – Whooping cough (medically known as pertussis) is a disease that causes uncontrollable, violent coughing. The coughing can make it hard to breathe. It is highly contagious; which is why vaccines are made available as part of routine immunisation for children. A deep “whooping” sound is often heard when the patient tries to take a breath, hence the name.

Causes/Risk Factors

Whooping cough is caused by the Bordetella pertussis bacteria. It is spread from person to person through air droplets.


The symptoms of whooping cough include the following:

  •  Coughing that leads to vomiting or a short loss of consciousness.
  •  Redness of the eyes
  •  Choking spells
  •  Long pauses in breathing
  •  Runny nose
  •  Slight fever
  •  DiarrhoeaDiagnosisThe initial diagnosis is usually based on the symptoms. However, when the symptoms are not obvious, Whooping cough may be difficult to diagnose. Your doctor may take a sample of the mucus or nasal secretions and test it at the laboratory.


    Treatment of whooping cough is by the use of specific antibiotics. Your doctor may prescribe a sedative to reduce cough, allow your child sleep and let the drugs work. Severe cases may require hospital admission.

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