Pertussis is the medical term for whooping cough. It is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis. Symptoms of whooping cough are similar to a common cold with sneezing, fever, and mild coughing. The coughing often progresses into a “whooping” sound, as a person struggles to take in air. Pertussis can affect people of all ages, but infants are reported to be at increased risk of suffering from the infection.
The best protection against pertussis is by vaccination. The vaccine for children aged two months to six years of age is called DTaP and is given in a series of five doses. Those aged eleven and older should be administered the TdaP vaccination at least once. These vaccines reduce infection risk and can provide protection from pertussis for up to ten years. Common side effects with the vaccines are redness and pain at the injection site.