What is whooping cough?

Whooping cough (also known as pertussis) is a highly contagious disease.1 It causes a severe cough that can last up to 100 days and lead to other serious complications.2,3

In newborn babies, whooping cough can result in life-threatening sickness and hospitalisation.1 It is generally thought of as a childhood illness, but can also affect adults and adolescents.1,4

What are the symptoms?

Whooping cough often starts just like a cold – with a runny nose, tiredness and sometimes a mild fever. Coughing then develops, usually in bouts, followed by a deep gasp or 'whoop' (but not everyone has the classic whooping sound).1,5,6

What can happen to my baby?2

  • Hospitalisation
  • Seizures
  • Pneumonia
  • Brain damage
  • Death

What can happen to me?7

  • Sleeping problems
  • Time off work or school
  • Vomiting
  • Fainting
  • In more serious cases, a stay in hospital

Severe, persistent coughing is the most common symptom in adults and adolescents.7