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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Pertussis
      Category : Health Centers > Respiratory System (Lungs and Breathing)


Alternate Names : Whooping Cough

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

The bacteria Bordetella pertussis causes pertussis, a respiratory illness characterized by severe episodes of cough.

What is going on in the body?

Pertussis is spread from person to person through respiratory secretions. The time between when a person is exposed to pertussis and when symptoms begin is usually 1 to 2 weeks. The disease begins with mild coldlike symptoms, but can progress to severe episodes of coughing. In young children, the episodes of coughing are followed by a characteristic whooping sound when breathing in. Patients will sometimes vomit after a coughing episode.

The disease is most severe in young infants. It can be associated with apnea, or long periods without breathing, and respiratory arrest. The main symptom in older children and adults is often just a cough that lasts a few weeks to months. The disease has become much less common with routine use of the pertussis vaccine over the past 60 years.

What are the causes and risks of the infection?

Bordetella pertussis causes pertussis.


Next section


Pertussis: Symptoms & Signs

Author: John Wegmann, MD
Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
Date Reviewed: 09/04/01

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