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Pertussis (Whopping Cough)

Pertussis is a severe and highly contagious respiratory illness caused by a type of bacteria called Bordetella pertussis.

What You Need to Know About Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

Pertussis can spread in several ways including, from person-to-person when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through contact with contaminated surfaces. 

Once a person is infected it can take up to 20 days for symptoms to develop. Symptoms include:

  • Usually starts like a cold, with a very runny nose. 
  •            After a few days, the typical irritating cough begins that becomes more frequent and severe. 
  •            Coughing may be followed by a “whoop” sound before the next breath. 
  •           The coughing can be so aggressive that children vomit or have trouble breathing. 
  •           The cough is usually severe for 2 to 3 weeks and then starts to get better but can last up to 1 to 2 months.  

Diagnosed cases of pertussis are treated with antibiotics. Please reach out to your health care provider if you think you may have pertussis.

Immunization remains the most effective defense against pertussis. Parents/caregivers should check their own immunization records, as they may be eligible for publicly funded pertussis-containing vaccine when the next booster is due.  

Health Protection Division

The Health Unit offers immunization clinics for those who don't have a family doctor.

Chat with someone from our Vaccine-Preventable Diseases Department for more information.

Email: immunization@hkpr.on.ca
Phone: 1-866-888-4577 x 1507

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