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Pertussis (whooping cough)


What are the symptoms of pertussis?

The first symptoms of pertussis may show up seven to 10 days after being infected with the bacteria but could appear up to 28 days after infection. Pertussis starts out with a mild fever, runny nose, red watery eyes and a cough. It leads to serious coughing fits that can last for two to 8 weeks. The coughing fits may cause difficulty breathing, choking and vomiting.

For older children and adults, pertussis symptoms may be less severe. They may appear as cold-like symptoms with a constant coughExternal Link that lasts longer than a week.

In some cases, pertussis can lead to worse complications like pneumonia.

Symptoms for infants include:

  • severe cough (some do not cough)
  • choking after coughing;
  • feeding poorly
  • having difficulty breathing

Complications for infants can include:

  • vomiting after coughing
  • weight loss
  • pneumonia
  • convulsions
  • brain damage

What to do if you become ill

If you or anyone in your household has a severe or prolonged cough, see a health care provider. It is important to get the right diagnosis and treatment. Make sure to stay away from young children until treatment is completed.