What is it?
Pertussis – commonly known as whooping cough – is a highly infectious bacterial disease caused by Bordetella Pertussis bacteria
It is a serious illness in babies and young children
What are the symptoms?
Sneezing, runny nose, mild fever and a cough
After 1-2 weeks the cough gradually worsens into coughing attacks that can last for up to a minute
These attacks recur over a period of 6-12 weeks
Pertussis can be serious in infants and young children
Complications may include pneumonia, convulsions and brain damage
The first symptoms of pertussis begin about 6-10 after infection
How can I contract it?
You can get pertussis when the bacteria comes into contact with your mouth or nose (for example when someone who has pertussis coughs or sneezes near you and you inhale the droplets)
You can also become infected by getting the droplets on your hands and then touching your nose or mouth
Where can I contract pertussis?
Pertussis is a common disease that occurs year-round throughout the world
The World Health Organization estimates that 95% of pertussis cases occur in developing countries
What vaccines are available?
Beginning at 2 months of age, Canadian children receive a series of combination vaccines and boosters that provide immunity from pertussis, tetanus, diphtheria (TdaP) and other diseases
Will I need a booster?
A one-time TdaP booster is now recommended for all adults
How can I prevent pertussis?
Parents are encouraged to make sure their children receive the pertussis vaccine as part of the normal childhood vaccine series and again at school entry and in grade 9 in BC schools
What is the treatment?
Antibiotics can help speed recovery from pertussis and reduce the contagious period
Family members may also be given preventive antibiotics
People who have pertussis should be isolated from infants and young children while they are contagious
There is no treatment to relieve the coughing attacks