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Pertussis (whooping cough) is caused by Bordetella pertussis. It is an acute bacterial disease involving the respiratory tact. It is spread by airborne route probably by droplets.

Incubation Period
7 - 10 days but can range from 4 - 21 days.

Signs and Symptoms
Pertussis is divided into 3 stages:

Catarrhal stage
  • Runny nose,
  • Low grade fever,
  • Sneezing,
  • Mild non-productive, occasional cough

Paroxysmal stage

  • After a week or two.
  • Severe spasms of quick, short coughs without breathing is between coughs. Patients often gag and gasp and sometimes expel thick mucous. After the attacks, patients typically strain to inhale.

Convalescent stage

  • Patients recover gradually and cough and cough less but may take many months or just a few in the mild form of the disease.


Isolation of Bordetella pertussis by culture (nasopharyngeal specimens).
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) should be used in addition to culture and not as a replacement.

Erythromycin prescribed by doctor (best effective if given in the catarrhal stage).

Educate the public, parents and infants, to the dangers of whopping cough.
Immunization programme: It is given at 2, 3 & 4 months of age. (Refer to Child Immunisation Schedule)​ 

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