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What is Pertussis?

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Pertussis can make babies, kids and adults very sick.

Pertussis, or "whooping cough," is caused by bacteria. It is very contagious. It causes a long-lasting, severe cough.

Pertussis often starts with mild cold symptoms. Then it turns into severe coughing fits followed by gagging, vomiting or a "whoop" sound.

Babies with pertussis may eat poorly, turn blue or stop breathing. Newborns are most at risk. They can develop life-threatening complications—like difficulty breathing, pneumonia or convulsions—that require hospitalization.

Pertussis epidemics happen every few years. In 2012, Washington had an epidemic with almost 5,000 cases. Pierce County had 700 cases.

Vaccination is the best way to prevent pertussis. Kids and adults should get vaccinated to prevent outbreaks and protect babies.

Resources

FAQs

  • How is it spread?
  • What are the symptoms?
  • Who should be concerned about pertussis?
  • I think I might have pertussis. What should I do?
  • What is the treatment?
  • How can I protect myself and my family?
  • Where can I get vaccinated against pertussis?

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