As a whooping cough epidemic is growing in southern California, it is important to be informed about the condition, its diagnosis, and its treatment. Here, we’ve compiled some answers from our doctors to provide a basic understanding about whooping cough. For more information, visit our Whooping Cough topic page or ask a new question.
“Pertussis (whooping cough) is a contagious bacterial disease, and often causes violent, uncontrollable coughing. Difficulty breathing may also occur.” – Dr. Geoffrey Rutledge
“Symptoms of whooping cough develop after a typical incubation period of 7 to 10 days (range: 5 to 21 days).Initially symptoms are similar to a common cold, but then progress to significant paroxysms of cough which are notable for an inspiratory “whoop”. Symptoms slowly resolve over weeks. The classic illness generally lasts 6-10 weeks. Routine childhood immunization is the best protection.” – Dr. John D. Simpson
“Besides the terrible cough, whooping cough (in young babies) can cause cessation of breathing (apnea), seizures, and death.” – Dr. Roy G. Benaroch
“Whooping cough, or pertussis, is caused by a bacterial infection so treatment is with antibiotics prescribed by your doctor. So, see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Vaccines largely prevent this disease.” – Dr. Sue Ferranti
“Whooping cough is diagnosed formally by testing for the bacterium that causes it. Most of us know it, however, from the funky cough it causes. After a bunch of coughing, there’s a sharp inhalation of breath that sounds like ‘whoooop’. The sound comes from air moving quickly through a swollen, narrowed airway. If you think you or someone you know has it, get to a doctor as soon as you can.” – Dr. Ronda Alexander
“If pertussis is treated and you have started antibiotics you are contagious for about 5 to 7 days. If you are not treated the period extends from 3 to 6 weeks.” – Dr. Josephine Ruiz Healy