What Is It?

Pertussis, commonly known as the whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by a type of bacteria called Bordetella pertussis. A typical case of pertussis in children and adults starts with a cough and runny nose for 1 to 2 weeks, followed by weeks to months of rapid coughing fits that sometimes end with a whooping sound. Fever, if present, is usually mild.

The disease is treatable with antibiotics or vaccines. Pertussis can cause serious and sometimes life-threatening complications, such as pneumonia, seizures, or brain damage in infants, young children and the elderly (especially those who are not fully vaccinated).

With proper treatment, most people recover from whooping cough without complications.


Immunization Recommendations

The CDC recommends that children get one dose of DTaP vaccine (a combination vaccine that protects against 3 diseases: diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) at the following ages: 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 to 18 months, and 4 to 6 years old. The CDC also recommends that children receive a booster shot of Tdap vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) at 10 to 11 years old.

In addition to the above, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDH) recommends:

  • A single does of Tdap for people 11 through 64 years of age for non-healthcare providers.
  • A one-time dose of Tdap or Td booster; then boost with Td every 10 years for people ages 19 and older who are healthcare providers.

Emergency Management

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