Skip to main content


Pertussis – also known as whooping cough – is a contagious infection of the respiratory tract (breathing tubes). It causes severe coughing that can last for weeks. People with pertussis often make a loud “whooping sound” when they inhale after coughing.

Most cases of pertussis can be prevented by a vaccination (shot).

Anyone can get pertussis. It adversely affects infants younger than 6 months old before they're fully protected by immunizations, and youth 11 to 18 years old whose immunity has started to fade. The disease can be very serious in very young children and infants. Pregnant women in their third trimester and adults over the age of 60 also have higher risk for complications. With good care, most people recover from pertussis with no problems.