Whooping cough is an infectious bacterial disease that causes uncontrollable coughing. The name comes from the noise you make when you take a breath after you cough. You may have choking spells or may cough so hard that you vomit.
Anyone can get whooping cough, but it is more common in infants and children. It's especially dangerous for infants. The coughing spells can be so bad that it is hard for infants to eat, drink, or breathe.
To make a diagnosis, your doctor may do a physical exam, blood tests, chest x-rays, or nose or throat cultures.
Before there was a vaccine, whooping cough was one of the most common childhood diseases and a major cause of childhood deaths in the U.S. Now most cases are prevented by vaccines. If you have whooping cough, treatment with antibiotics may help if given early.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Pertussis (Whooping Cough) (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Pertussis Frequently Asked Questions (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Available in Spanish
- Whooping Cough (American Academy of Family Physicians) Available in Spanish
- Whooping Cough (Pertussis) (Nemours Foundation) Available in Spanish
- Whooping Cough Shot Safe for Pregnant Women (05/23/2016, HealthDay)
Diagnosis and Tests
- Pertussis Tests (American Association for Clinical Chemistry)
Prevention and Risk Factors
- MedlinePlus: Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis Vaccines (National Library of Medicine) Available in Spanish
- Photos of Pertussis (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Videos and Tutorials
- One Family's Struggles with Pertussis (Whooping Cough) (Parents of Kids with Infectious Diseases)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Whooping Cough (National Institutes of Health)
Journal ArticlesReferences and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Association Between Vaccine Refusal and Vaccine-Preventable Diseases in the United...
- Article: Pertussis immunisation in pregnancy: a summary of funded Australian state...
- Article: Protecting Newborns Against Pertussis: Treatment and Prevention Strategies.
- Whooping Cough -- see more articles
Find an Expert
- Help Protect Babies from Whooping Cough (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Available in Spanish
- Whooping Cough (Pertussis) - Fact Sheet for Parents (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Available in Spanish
- Woes of Whooping Cough (Nemours Foundation)
- Preventing Pertussis (Whooping Cough) (American College of Nurse-Midwives) - PDF